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Gwen Ifill

gwen ifill, gwen ifill wikipedia
Gwendolyn L "Gwen" Ifill /ˈaɪfəl/; September 29, 1955 – November 14, 2016 was an American Peabody Award-winning journalist, television newscaster, and author In 1999, she became the first African American woman to host a major political TV show with Washington Week in Review 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 authored the best-selling book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama


  • 1 Early life and education
  • 2 Career
    • 21 2004 and 2008 vice-presidential debates
    • 22 2009–2016
  • 3 Published works
  • 4 Honors and awards
  • 5 Death
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

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, a women's college in Boston, Massachusetts


While at Simmons College, Ifill interned for the Boston Herald-American One day at work, she discovered a note on her desk that read, "Nigger go home" After showing the note to editors at the newspaper who "were horrified", they offered her a job when she graduated college in 1977 Ifill's close friend Michele Norris stated that Ifill "said that was really unfortunate, but I have work to do and that's how - that's how she got the job She didn't get the job out of sympathy She got the job because she didn't let that slow her down"

Ifill went on to work for the Baltimore Evening Sun from 1981–1984 and the Washington Post from 1984–1991 She left the Post after being told she wasn't ready to cover Capitol Hill and was hired by The New York Times where she covered The White House from 1991–1994 Her first job in television was with NBC where she was the network's Capitol Hill reporter in 1994

In October 1999, she became the moderator of the PBS program Washington Week in Review becoming the first black woman to host a national political talk show on television She was a senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour Ifill appeared on various news shows, including Meet the Press, Face the Nation, The Colbert Report, Charlie Rose, Inside Washington, and The Tavis Smiley Show In November 2006, she co-hosted Jamestown Live!, an educational webcast commemorating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Virginia

Ifill served on the boards 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

Ifill at the 2015 LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award in Washington, DC

On October 5, 2004, Ifill moderated the vice-presidential debate between the Republican Vice President Dick Cheney and the Democratic candidate and US Senator from North Carolina John Edwards Howard Kurtz described the consensus that Ifill "acquitted herself well" as moderator She was the first black woman to moderate a vice presidential debate

Ifill also moderated the vice-presidential debate on October 2, 2008, between the Democratic US Senator from Delaware Joe Biden and the Republican governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, at Washington University, in St Louis The debate's format offered Ifill freedom to cover domestic and international issues

Before the 2008 debate, Ifill's objectivity was questioned by conservative talk radio, blogs and cable news programs and some independent media analysts because of her book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, which was scheduled to be released on Inauguration Day 2009 but whose contents had not been disclosed to the debate commission or the campaigns The book was mentioned in the Washington Times and appeared in trade catalogues as early as July 2008, well before Ifill was selected by the debate committee Several analysts viewed Ifill's book as creating a conflict of interest, including Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, who said, “Obviously the book will be much more valuable to her if Obama is elected” John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, said in an interview on Fox News Channel, "I think she will do a totally objective job because she is a highly respected professional" Asked about the forthcoming book, McCain responded, "Does this helpif she has written a book that's favorable to Senator Obama Probably not But I have confidence that Gwen Ifill will do a professional job"

"No one's ever assumed a white reporter can't cover a white candidate"

— Gwen Ifill

To critics, Ifill responded, "I've got a pretty long track record covering politics and news, so I'm not particularly worried that one-day blog chatter is going to destroy my reputation The proof is in the pudding They can watch the debate tomorrow night and make their own decisions about whether or not I've done my job"

After the debate, Ifill received praise for her performance The Boston Globe reported that she received "high marks for equal treatment of the candidates"

Ifill's moderation of the debates won her pop-culture recognition when the debates were parodied on Saturday Night Live, with Queen Latifah portraying Ifill PBS ombudsman Michael Getler twice wrote about letters he received complaining of bias in Ifill's news coverage He dismissed complaints that Ifill appeared insufficiently enthusiastic about Sarah Palin's speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention, and concluded that Ifill had played a "solid, in my view, and central role in PBS coverage of both conventions"


In September 2011, Ifill was a presenter at the 32nd News & Documentary Emmy Awards

On August 6, 2013, NewsHour named Ifill and Judy Woodruff as co-anchors and co-managing editors They shared anchor duties Monday through Thursday; Woodruff was the sole anchor on Friday In November 2015, Ifill was the Master of Ceremonies at the 2015 LBJ Liberty & Justice For All Award ceremony

In February 2016, she and Woodruff became the first woman team to moderate a Democratic presidential debate

Published works

Ifill's book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama was published on January 20, 2009, the Inauguration Day of President Barack Obama The book focused on several African-American politicians, including Obama and other up-and-comers such as Deval Patrick then the governor of Massachusetts and Cory Booker then the mayor of Newark, New Jersey The publisher, Random House, described the book as showing "why this is a pivotal moment in American history" through interviews with black power brokers and through Ifill's observations and analysis of issues The book was a New York Times best-seller

Honors and awards

Ifill was awarded the Women in Film & Video Women of Vision Award in 2000 In 2004, she received the Gracie Allen Tribute Award from the Foundation for American Women in Radio and Television

Ifill at the 2009 Peabody Awards ceremony

She was awarded a Peabody Award in 2008 for her work on Washington Week In 2009 she was honored with the First Amendment Award by Ford Hall Forum and Harvard University honored her the same year with the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism The following year she received the 17th Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from Quinnipiac University On February 7, 2011, Ifill was named an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta during the sorority's 22nd Annual Delta Days in Washington, DC

In 2012, Ifill was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame In 2014 she was awarded the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism

Her work on the PBS town hall special America After Ferguson earned her a nomination for Outstanding Host in a Talk, Reality, News/ Information or Variety Series or Special at the 46th NAACP Image Awards

In November 2015 she accepted the Lifetime Achievement award from the Women's Media Center at the annual Women's Media Awards ceremony She received the Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club in 2015 Columbia University awarded her in 2016 the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism; Ifill died two days before the scheduled ceremony

Ifill received more than 20 honorary doctorates from universities around the world, including Georgetown University, Smith College, Bates College and Skidmore College In May 2011 she served as a commencement speaker at Morehouse College


Ifill died of cancer on November 14, 2016, at age 61 According to CNN she spent her final days at a Washington, DC hospice, surrounded by family and friends Sara Just of PBS and WETA-TV referred to her as "a journalist’s journalist" US President Barack Obama extended his condolences to Ifill's family and stated that he "always appreciated reporting even when was at the receiving end of one of her tough interviews" Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in expressing his condolences, described Ifill as "an incredibly talented and respected journalist"


  1. ^ US dict: gwĕn′·də·lĭn īf′·əl
  2. ^ a b Sutton, Kelsey; Gold, Hadas 2016-11-14 "Gwen Ifill dead at age 61" Politico Retrieved 2016-11-14 
  3. ^ Byers, Dylan November 15, 2016 "PBS newscaster Gwen Ifill has died" CNN Retrieved November 16, 2016 
  4. ^ Jones, Vanessa E March 5, 2009 "Breaking through" Bostoncom The Boston Globe Retrieved November 14, 2016 
  5. ^ "After Words with Gwen Ifill" After Words 2009-01-31 C-SPAN 
  6. ^ "Gwen Ifill Biography" Biography 2008 Retrieved September 18, 2008 
  7. ^ Carol Brennan 2008 "Black Biography: Gwen Ifill" Contemporary Black Biography Gale Group Retrieved September 18, 2008 
  8. ^ Specter, Michael December 2, 1991 "O Urcille Ifill Sr, 70, a Leader Of a Black Church and of Causes" The New York Times Retrieved November 14, 2016 e was a pastor at AME churches in New York City; Buffalo; Springfield, Mass, and in two small Pennsylvania communities before moving to Philadelphia There, he served for a decade as pastor of the AME Union Church 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Suddath, Claire October 2, 2008 "Debate Moderator Gwen Ifill" Time Retrieved October 3, 2008 
  10. ^ "Gwen Ifill" The Notable Names Database nndbcom 2008 Retrieved September 6, 2008 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Deggans, Eric November 15, 2016 "Veteran Washington Journalist Gwen Ifill Dies At 61" NPR Retrieved November 16, 2016 
  12. ^ a b Russert, Tim; Broder, David; Dickerson, John; Ifill, Gwen; Mitchell, Andrea; Wolffe, Richard April 27, 2008 "Political Roundtable" Meet the Press transcript NBC Retrieved April 27, 2008 
  13. ^ "Face the Nation Transcripts September 13: Trump, Carson & a Battleground Tracker Poll" CBS September 13, 2015 Retrieved 16 November 2016 
  14. ^ "Gwen Ifill & Judy Woodruff" The Colbert Show October 23, 2013 Retrieved 16 November 2016 
  15. ^ "Gwen Ifill" Charlie Rose Retrieved 16 November 2016 
  16. ^ ""Inside Washington" Joins WETA TV 26 Friday Night Lineup" WETA Retrieved 16 November 2016 
  17. ^ "Gwen Ifill" IMDB Retrieved 16 November 2016 
  18. ^ Reklaitis, Victor October 11, 2006 "PBS journalist to host webcast from Jamestown" Orlando Sentinel Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  19. ^ Yu, Roger November 14, 2016 "Prominent PBS journalist Gwen Ifill dies" USA Today Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  20. ^ Kurtz, Howard September 4, 2008 "In a Historic Year, Ifill Has One Thing to Do: Her Job" Washington Post p A24 Retrieved October 5, 2008 
  21. ^ Santucci, John August 5, 2008 "Who Gets to Ask the Tough Questions" ABC News Retrieved August 5, 2008 
  22. ^ Bauder, Dabid September 21, 2008 "Ifill Hits Jackpot in Moderating VP Debate" The Washington Post The Associated Press Retrieved October 4, 2008 
  23. ^ a b Rutenberg, Jim October 2, 2008 "Moderator's Planned Book Becomes a Topic of Debate" The New York Times Retrieved October 1, 2008 
  24. ^ "Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail" Washington Times July 25, 2008 
  25. ^ "VP Debate Moderator Accused of Bias" Boston Globe October 2, 2008 Retrieved October 3, 2008 
  26. ^ "Questions Raised About Moderator's Impartiality" Associated Press, October 1, 2008
  27. ^ Foon Rhee October 3, 2008 "Ifill Proves the Critics Wrong" Boston Globe Retrieved October 3, 2008 
  28. ^ Rainey, James October 3, 2008 "Gwen Ifill Was a True Journalist: Fair" Los Angeles Times Retrieved October 3, 2008 
  29. ^ Getler, Michael September 5, 2008 "Ombudsman's Mailbag" The Ombudsman Column PBS Retrieved February 2, 2009 
  30. ^ "The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Announces Winners at the 32nd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards" The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  31. ^ "Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff to Co-Anchor 'Newshour'" AP Retrieved August 6, 2013 
  32. ^ "2015 LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award" Lyndon B Johnson Library Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  33. ^ Gold, Hadas February 12, 2016 "A very PBS debate" Politico Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  34. ^ Calderone, Michael October 1, 2008 "Ifill's Book Was No Secret" Politico Retrieved October 4, 2008 
  35. ^ Mantyk, Evan October 1, 2008 "VP Debate Moderator Writing Pro-Obama Book" Epoch Times Retrieved October 4, 2008 
  36. ^ Boynton, Robert S January 16, 2009 "Demographics and Destiny" The New York Times Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  37. ^ "NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc Mourns Passing of Trailblazing Journalist Gwen Ifill" NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund November 14, 2016 Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  38. ^ "Women of Vision Awards" Women in Film & Video Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  39. ^ "Awards" PBS Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  40. ^ "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill & National Journal PBS" Peabody Awards Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  41. ^ "First Amendment Award History" Ford Hall Forum Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  42. ^ "Gwen Ifill to Receive the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism" Harvard University Retrieved 15 November 2016 
  43. ^ "Gwen Ifill Accepts First Amendment Award" Ad Week June 15, 2010 Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  44. ^ "Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Celebrates Centennial" Ebony January 14, 2013 Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  45. ^ "Hall of Fame 2012" National Association of Black Journalists Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  46. ^ "Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media" Newseum Institute Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  47. ^ "NAACP Image Awards: The Winners" Hollywood Reporter February 6, 2015 Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  48. ^ "PBS journalist Gwen Ifill dies of cancer" Fox 6 November 14, 2016 Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  49. ^ "Past Fourth Estate Award Winners" The National Press Club Retrieved November 14, 2016 
  50. ^ "2016 John Chancellor Award" Columbia University Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  51. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients" Georgetown University Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  52. ^ Hudzik, Sam November 14, 2016 "Barrier-Breaking Journalist Gwen Ifill, A Onetime Springfield Resident, Dies" New England Public Radio Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  53. ^ "List of Honorary Degree Recipients" Bates College Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  54. ^ "Skidmore College to honor Clive Gillinson, Gwen Ifill, Gregory Howard Williams with honorary degrees at 99th commencement" Saratogian May 10, 2010 Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  55. ^ "Inside Morehouse" PDF Morehouse College May 2011 Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  56. ^ ""PBS NewsHour" Anchor Ifill Loses Breast Cancer Battle" msncom Retrieved November 15, 2016 
  57. ^ Byers, Dylan; Stelter, Bryan November 15, 2016 PBS newscaster Gwen Ifill has died cnncom
  58. ^ Holloway, Daniel November 14, 2016 "Gwen Ifill, Longtime PBS Journalist, Dies at 61" varietycom Retrieved November 14, 2016 
  59. ^ "Obama: Gwen Ifill Informed Citizens and Inspired Journalists" washingtonpostcom November 14, 2016 Retrieved November 14, 2016 
  60. ^ "US Journalist and PBS Anchor Gwen Ifill Dies at 61" Reuters November 14, 2016 Retrieved November 14, 2016 

External links

  • Gwen Ifill at PBS NewsHour
  • Gwen Ifill at Washington Week
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Gwen Ifill at the Internet Movie Database
  • Gwen Ifill interview video at the Archive of American Television
  • "Remembering Gwen", PBS NewsHour, November 14, 2016

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