Gwen Ifill Is Remembered and Mourned

The PBS NewsHour anchor passed away today at the age of 61.

The year 2016 continued its awful reign today, shaking and saddening many in the media community with the news that PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor Gwen Ifill passed away at the age of 61 from cancer.

Ifill was much more than a news anchor, becoming a trailblazer and inspiration to so many in the field throughout her career, especially for those who had never or rarely seen themselves represented in the roles Ifill took on. This is how Ifill described her appointment to NewsHour in 2013:

Ms. Ifill, who is black, said that she and Ms. Woodruff were mindful of the broader significance 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.

“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,” she added.

And for many who took to social media to remember Ifill, that image, as well her turns moderating two vice presidential debate and a presidential primary last year, served just that purpose.

She is being remembered and mourned for who she was when the cameras were and weren’t rolling.

“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 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.”

During a press conference today, President Obama paid tribute to Ifill, saying, “She not only informed today’s citizens but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists. She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect, and for whom she blazed a trail as one half of the first all-female anchor team on network news.”

NPR All Things Considered host Audie Cornish movingly described how Ifill had inspired her: