Gwen Ifill, the Peabody Award-Winning Political Reporter, Has Died at 61
Gwen Ifill, an award-winning broadcast journalist known for breaking down barriers while reporting for publications including The Washington Post, New York Times and NBC as well as co-anchoring PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff has passed away at age 61.
She was widely respected for her balanced reporting, healthy skepticism of those in power, and for drawing issues to public attention.
Early Life and Education
Gwendolyn (Gwen) Ifill was an award-winning journalist who broke through barriers by becoming the first African American woman to host a political talk show on national television: PBS’ Washington Week. Additionally, she served as senior political correspondent and moderator of several televised presidential debates.
Ifill was born in New York City to a Panamanian father and Barbadian mother. She attended Simmons College, a women’s university located in Boston, Massachusetts where she majored in communications while also interning for local newspapers.
After graduating Simmons, she pursued a career as a newspaper reporter, eventually reporting for Baltimore Evening Sun, Washington Post and New York Times publications. She was also on the Board of Directors for both Committee to Protect Journalists and News Literacy Project.
Professionally, Ifill made her mark as an accomplished journalist and host. Through her work at NBC News and PBS she became one of two women ever to co-anchor a network nightly news broadcast; additionally she served as moderator for public-affairs program “Washington Week” and senior correspondent on PBS NewsHour; additionally she moderated several debates such as 2004 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards and 2008 Democratic primaries debate between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders last spring.
She earned many honors and awards for her work, such as the 2008 George Foster Peabody Award, 2009 First Amendment Award from Ford Hall Forum, and Quinnipiac University’s 17th Fred Friendly First Amendment Award in 2009. Additionally, in 2012 she was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
Achievement and Honors
Gwen Ifill broke through barriers when she became the first black woman to host a political talk show on television in 1999. A journalist of astounding talent, her career was filled with many honors and achievements.
Ifill was also known for her extensive reporting work for both The New York Times and NBC News. As chief congressional and White House correspondent of both, as well as writing several national and local stories. Ifill published her memoir entitled, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Obama Age” in 2009.
She earned more than a dozen honorary doctorates and served on the boards of both the Committee to Protect Journalists and News Literacy Project, before passing away at age 61 in 2016.
Gwendolyn Ifill was an active member of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. She enjoyed socializing with Washington luminaries while devoting her free time to reading – although she never married and had no children of her own.
Beginning as an intern at Boston Herald-American, she went on to work at The New York Times and the White House before transitioning into being chief congressional and political correspondent at NBC News.
She first made a name for herself as a moderator for presidential and vice-presidential debates, pioneering other Black journalists. Additionally, she published several books including “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” In recognition of her services she received more than 20 honorary doctorates as well as membership on boards at Harvard University Joan Shorenstein Center as well as National Press Club.
Gwendolyn Ifill was known for her impeccable work ethic and commanding personality. As one of the top journalists, she amassed a significant net worth throughout her lifetime – all while keeping her personal life under wraps – serving as an inspiring role model to other journalists.
She was an active member of various journalist organizations and earned numerous awards, serving as senior correspondent for NBC News and White House correspondent for The New York Times respectively, moderating 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates, authoring books such as “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama”, etc.
She passed away from endometrial cancer on November 14, 2016 at age 61 and made a lasting contribution to journalism.