PBS Journalist Gwen Ifill Dies at Age 61

November 14, 2016

Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill (September 29, 1955 – November 14, 2016) died from cancer the morning of November 14. The journalist, television newscaster, and author was the moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of PBS NewsHour.

“It is with deep sadness that I share the news that Gwen Ifill, Co-Anchor and Managing Editor of PBS NewsHour and Moderator and Managing Editor of Washington Week passed away this morning after a battle with cancer. Gwen has been an exemplary journalist and friend to all of us in public media. And she has no doubt been a contributor to our longtime standing as the most trusted network in television. As her colleague Sharon Rockefeller from WETA [in Washington, DC] shared with us a short while ago, “Gwen was an extraordinary and special person — one of the nation’s leading lights in journalism, a gracious and inspiring colleague, and a warm and steadfast friend.

Her steady hand and quick mind will be deeply missed by us all.” — Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET

Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, said Ifill was “a fundamental reason public media is considered a trusted window on the world,” in coverage by NPR.

Condolences from Politicians

Condolences on Twitter came from across the political divide. USA Today shared tweets from officials of the Republican and Democratic parties, Kellyanne Conway from the Donald Trump campaign, and former presidential candidate Ben Carson.

President Barack Obama tweeted a message on behalf of himself and First Lady Michelle Obama:

Fellow Journalists Pay Respects to Ifill

Ifill has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. Her newspaper work includes years at the Baltimore Evening Sun (1981–84), The Washington Post (1984–1991), and The New York Times (1991–94). She worked at NBC prior to becoming the moderator of the PBS program Washington Week in Review in 2009. She served as co-anchor and co-managing editor with Judy Woodruff on PBS News Hour since August 6, 2013. She most recently co-hosted special PBS NewsHour coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions in 2016.

Condolences from fellow broadcast journalists and hosts included tweets from Tavis Smiley, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Bob Woodruff, Tamron Hall and Lester Holt.

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill has posted scores of photos of Ifill throughout her life, and invites viewers to email their personal tributes to the program.

Words of Wisdom from Gwen Ifill

There are many things to learn from Gwen Ifill. She shared her words of wisdom about journalism and how to be a moderator in a Presidential debate in these videos, below.

“Read, Read, Read”

What is the future of journalism?

What should the role of the moderator be?


“Every debate moderator tries to figure a way to get past the speeches,” Gwen Ifill, moderator of the VP debates in 2004 and 2008, told students at Colorado College in September, 2016. “It’s a rare opportunity to see a contrast between the two candidates on any issue.”