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BREAKING NEWS: Veteran PBS Journalist Gwen Ifill Has Died; She Was 61 Years Old

Gwen Ifill

by Ted Goodman

Gwen Ifill, the host of “Washington Week” on PBS and co-host of the PBS “NewsHour,” is dead at the age of 61, according to reports.

Ifill joined PBS in 1999 as both the moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week,” the network’s Sunday-morning talk show. In 2013, PBS named Ifill co-host of the PBS “NewsHour,” along with Judy Woodruff.

Ifill was considered one of the finest journalists in the business, and she seemed to understand the significance of her placement as an achor on a major evening news program. “When I was a little girl watching programs like this [PBS NewsHour], I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,” Ifill recounted in a 2013 New York Times interview.

Ifill and Woodruff became the first women to co-host a prime time news program, something they took very seriously. “I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy [Woodruff] sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal — that it won’t seem like any big breakthrough at all.”

“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” Sara Just, “PBS NewsHour” executive producer and senior VP of public television station WETA, said in a statement.

“She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her,” Just said. “We will forever miss her terribly.”

The veteran journalist was a trailblazer for African-American women in the television industry. The amount of respect and love for Ifill has been evident as colleagues, friends and fans remembered Ifill’s legacy over Twitter:

Ifill started her career as a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun and the Boston Herald America. She rose through the ranks of journalism, becoming a national political reporter for the Washington Post and then the White House correspondent for The New York Times. Just before joining PBS, Ifill was NBC’s chief congressional and political correspondent.

Ifill was taking some time off for unspecified health reasons. Ifill succumbed to cancer, People Magazine reported, ending any speculation.

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