Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour,” has died. She was 61 years old.
WETA President and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller confirmed the news to staff in a Monday email, saying Ifill died of cancer.
“I am very sad to tell you that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away today in hospice care in Washington,” she wrote. “I spent an hour with her this morning and she was resting comfortably, surrounded by loving family and friends.”
A veteran journalist, Ifill moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates. She was set to receive the 2016 John Chancellor Award from Columbia University for “her unflinching pursuit of the truth, healthy skepticism of those in power and her commitment to fairness.” The award ceremony, scheduled for Nov. 16, was recently postponed.
Prior to her career at PBS, Ifill worked at The Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC News. She joined PBS in 1999, and in 2013, Ifill and her “PBS NewsHour” co-host Judy Woodruff became the first women to co-host a nightly news program.
“Gwen was one of America’s leading lights in journalism and a fundamental reason public media is considered a trusted window on the world by audiences across the nation,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement.
Sara Just, “PBS NewsHour” executive producer, praised Ifill as a “journalist’s journalist.”
“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,” Just said in a statement.
NBC News correspondent Pete Williams fought back tears as he reported on the death of his “dear friend, a former NBC colleague.”
“Gwen would want me to get this together,” he said. “She had so many rewards and awards in her office you could barely see out the window. ... She was one of the most successful women in journalism.”
Politicians, journalists and celebrities paid tribute to Ifill on Twitter following the news of her death: