For the First Time Ever, Two Ladies Will Host a Nightly News Show


Good news for people who like to watch people other than white men host their evening news programs: PBS has grabbed Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff to co-host NewsHour, the channel’s long-running nightly news program. According to PBS, “This will mark the first time a network broadcast has had a female co-anchor team.” Bonus diversity points because one of them isn’t white!

When it launched, NewsHour was hosted by Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil. MacNeil eventually left, leaving the show to Lehrer, who retired in 2011. Since then, a rotating cast of hosts has been in place. In statements, the two women sounded pretty jazzed that they’re the ones that will be taking over permanently:

Ifill: “I am so pleased to be taking on this new role alongside my colleague and dear friend Judy Woodruff. We’ve successfully worked side-by-side for many years covering conventions, elections and countless other news events. We make a great team.”
Woodruff: “Gwen and I love working together and appreciate the trust viewers put in the PBS NewsHour, both on TV and online. Working with Linda and this entire terrific team, we’ll do our best to make sure the next chapter for the NewsHour upholds its reputation for excellence, independence and integrity.”

Ifill and Woodruff are basically the journalistic equivalent of a buddy comedy. The pair has already worked together, and well at that: you last saw them hosting the network’s RNC and DNC coverage and Ifill has moderated previous presidential debates. According to the New York Times, they’ve also spent plenty of time “on endless panels together discussing women in journalism”:

Ms. Ifill, who is black, said she and Ms. Woodruff were conscious of the gender context of their appointment.
“When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that’s the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,” she said.
She continued, “I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal. That it won’t seem like any big breakthrough at all.”

While cable news has been doing a better job recently making moves to fill spots with women, to have two women host a legacy news organization and have it not be greeted with the skepticism that was Katie Couric’s time at the helm of CBS’s Evening News is the biggest deal of them all. PBS hasn’t shied away from publicizing the historical nature of this hiring; Linda Winslow, who executive produces the show, admitted that while they chose Ifill and Woodruff for their stellar journalistic skills, the fact that they were a pair of women “wasn’t…an unattractive feature.” You can change the channel to PBS when the women start in September.

Image via Frederick M. Brown/Getty

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