Remembering Gwen Ifill

By Daniel Ford

Gwen Ifill, co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour” and moderator of “Washington Week,” died yesterday at the age of 61. 

Ifill was a trailblazing journalist who brought warmth, dignity, and class to a profession that doesn’t always reward those qualities. As a young journalist in New York City, I admired Ifill because she wore her passion, objectivity, and intellectual curiosity on her sleeve, and never failed to bring a smile and kind personality to even the most rancorous debates and discussions.   

Our nation is entering an era of uncertainty, one in which press freedom could be severely curtailed or discredited. As television critic Daniel Fienberg said on Twitter, “This is not the time to lose journalists of dignity, integrity, and professionalism.” My hope is that Ifill’s steadfast adherence to journalistic principles will provide a blueprint for aspiring journalists so that our citizens don’t forget, abandon, or abolish the American ideals people like Ifill embodied so brilliantly. 

During one of the talks below, Ifill says something that sums up everything I believe about journalism and the American experience. She was promoting her book, but was more eager to hear from the audience. She says, “I’ll turn it over to your questions because that’s how I get to learn stuff back.” Ifill understood that true learning comes from listening, which is why it’s imperative that you take time in the coming weeks and months to listen to her words and thoughts regarding our political system and today’s news media. We’re going to need to learn an awful lot in a hurry. 

Gwen Ifill, you will be sorely missed. I hope we live up to your classy example.