Gwen Ifill, veteran journalist and PBS news anchor, dead at 61

african kings

Gwen Ifill has died at the age of 61.

The respected veteran journalist and longtime news anchor of PBS’ NewsHour and Washington Week passed away in hospice care in Washington. She had been battling cancer.

Ifill moderated two vice-presidential debates (’04, ’08) and authored The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama in 2009.

She previously worked at The Washington PostThe New York Times and NBC News. Ifill was set to receive the 2016 John Chancellor Award from Columbia University this week for her body of work as a reporter, moderator and trusted voice in media and journalism. She was the first African-American to receive the honor.

Washington Week is the longest-running U.S. prime-time news and public affairs program on TV.

WETA president and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller called Ifill a “standard bearer for courage” in  a statement obtained by Politico:

Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change. She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her,” said PBS NewsHour executive producer Sara Just, in a statement. “So many people in the audience felt that they knew and adored her. She had a tremendous combination of warmth and authority. She was stopped on the street routinely by people who just wanted to give her a hug and considered her a friend after years of seeing her on TV. We will forever miss her terribly.

Sarah Glover, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, called Ifill a “transformational voice” in a brief statement on Facebook:

I am saddened to hear of Ms. Gwen Ifill‘s passing. Gwen, 61, was a transformative voice among journalists. Her professionalism and poise coupled with an innate doggedness to report the story reverberated throughout the industry. Gwen covered politics and the presidential race with class, wisdom and insight, separating her from the pack. The National Association of Black Journalists sends heartfelt sympathies to Gwen’s family, friends and colleagues. She was a longtime NABJ member and stalwart, and will truly be missed.