Veteran television journalist and author Gwen Ifill has died. According to PBS the cause of death was cancer. During a news conference Monday, President Barack Obama called Ifill “an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect, and for whom she blazed a trail as one half of the first all-female network anchor team on network news.”
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) issued the following statement to its members:
NABJ mourns the loss of longtime member Gwen Ifill, co-anchor of PBS’ NewsHour and moderator and managing editor of Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.
“I am saddened to hear of Gwen Ifill’s passing. Gwen was a transformative voice among journalists. Her professionalism and poise, coupled with an innate doggedness to report the story, reverberated throughout the industry,” NABJ President Sarah Glover said. “Gwen covered politics and the presidential race with class, wisdom and insight, separating her from the pack.”
Ifill, 61, joined PBS in 1999, reporting on politics for NewsHour and moderating Washington Week. In 2013 she was named co-anchor of PBS’ flagship evening news program along with Judy Woodruff.
She was one of the most successful journalists to make the transition from print to television. Earlier in her career, she reported for The Baltimore Evening Sun and The Boston Herald American. Later she was a local and national political reporter for The Washington Post. She went on to hold one of the most respected jobs in the industry as a White House correspondent for The New York Times. When she made the transition to television, she became the chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News in 1994.
“Gwen was the platinum standard for political journalists and she was such an inspiration to African-American women in the business,” said Washington Post staff writer and former NABJ President Vanessa Williams. “She was a tough, smart reporter, with a warm, generous spirit who never hesitated to help, financially and with her time and talents, when asked, whether by NABJ or by a student who approached her for a few words of advice and a selfie.”
Respected throughout the industry, Ifill co-moderated one of the presidential debates between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders earlier this year, and moderated the 2004 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, and the 2008 debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.
A long-time and dedicated member of the National Association of Black Journalists, she was inducted into the Association’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
NABJ’s thoughts are with Ifill’s family, her colleagues and friends during this difficult time.