Gwen Ifill, a groundbreaking journalist who covered the White House, Congress and national campaigns during three decades for The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC and, most prominently, PBS, died on Monday at a hospice in Washington. She was 61.
The cause was complications of uterine cancer, her brother Roberto said.
In a distinguished career, Ms. Ifill was in the forefront of a journalism vanguard as a black woman in a field dominated by white men.
She achieved her highest visibility most recently, as the moderator and managing editor of the public affairs program “Washington Week” on PBS and the co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of “NewsHour,” competing with the major broadcast and cable networks for the nightly news viewership. They were the first all-female anchor team on network nightly news.
Wiki: Gwendolyn L. “Gwen” Ifill, September 29, 1955 – November 14, 2016) was an American Peabody Award-winning journalist, television newscaster, and author. She was the moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of PBS NewsHour, both of which air on PBS. Ifill was a political analyst and moderated the 2004 and 2008 American vice-presidential debates. She was the author of the best-selling book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.
Early life and education
Ifill was born in New York City, the fifth child of African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister (Oliver) Urcille Ifill, Sr., a Panamanian of Barbadian descent who emigrated from Panama, and Eleanor Ifill, who was from Barbados.Her father’s ministry required the family to live in several cities in New England and on the Eastern Seaboard during her youth, where he pastored AME churches. As a child, she lived in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts church parsonages and in federally subsidized housing in Buffalo and New York City. She graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Simmons College, in Boston, Massachusetts.
While at Simmons College, Ifill interned for the Boston Herald-American and was hired after graduation by editors deeply embarrassed by an incident during her internship in which a coworker wrote her a note that read, “Nigger go home.” Later she worked for the Baltimore Evening Sun (1981–84), the Washington Post (1984–91), the New York Times (1991–94), and NBC.
In October 1999, she became the moderator of the PBS program Washington Week in Review. She was also senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour. Ifill appeared on various news shows, including Meet the Press.
In November 2006, Ifill co-hosted Jamestown Live!, a educational webcast commemorating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Virginia. She served on the board of the Harvard Institute of Politics, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Museum of Television and Radio, and the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
2004 and 2008 vice-presidential debates
On October 5, 2004, Ifill moderated the vice-presidential debate between the Republican Vice President Dick Cheney and the Democratic candidate and U.S. Senator from North Carolina John Edwards. Howard Kurtz described the consensus that Ifill “acquitted herself well” as moderator.