Judy Woodruff to Step Aside from PBS NewsHour Anchor Desk
Will Launch 'Judy Woodruff Presents: America at a Crossroads' Reporting Series through 2024
November 11, 2022
ARLINGTON, VA (November 11, 2022) – Anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff today announces her intent to step aside from the PBS NewsHour anchor desk on Friday, December 30, 2022, and to begin work on a two-year project to understand better how the American people see their country and whether today’s deep political divisions can be healed. Woodruff will devote 2023 and 2024 to this national reporting project, "Judy Woodruff Presents: America at a Crossroads."
The effort will explore how America arrived at this fractured political state and what solutions people envision, through travel and conversations with voters and local and national politicians, as well as discussions with writers, historians, religious and community leaders, and policy experts. As a senior correspondent, she will report regularly for this series on the NewsHour, with possible primetime specials for PBS.
About her decision, Judy Woodruff said, “I have loved anchoring this extraordinary program, initially with my dear friend Gwen Ifill. To follow in the footsteps of Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil has been the honor of a lifetime. Now, I am thrilled to be embarking on this new project to try to understand the most divided time in American politics since I started reporting. I want to listen to the American people themselves, in cities, small towns and rural areas, from one end of the country to the other, to ask them about their hopes and fears, how they see their role as citizens, and to have long conversations with people who’ve given these questions careful thought.”
Sara Just, PBS NewsHour’s senior executive producer and a WETA SVP, added, “Judy Woodruff is a legend and an icon. She continues to inspire with her commitment to fair, thorough journalism and her next project will bring all of her experience and skills to the most important story in our country - What is happening in America and can democracy survive?”
Sharon Percy Rockefeller, WETA president and CEO and president of NewsHour Productions, noted, “A consummate professional and cherished colleague, Judy is the embodiment of journalism’s highest ideals. We are extraordinarily grateful that she will continue to report with
precision and insight on those issues that help us better understand our country and our world. We look forward to this next chapter in her vital work on behalf of the public.”
PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger added, “Judy is an exceptional journalist, whose impartial reporting and integrity continue to set the standard for excellence. Judy is a trusted voice when trust is so very important, and we are thrilled that she will continue to serve audiences on PBS.”
Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, also noted, “Throughout her long and extraordinary career, Judy Woodruff has earned the public’s trust with her even-handed interviews and commitment to the facts. Her journalistic excellence has been recognized many times, most recently in September, when she received the Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement in television news. Her commitment to civil discussion set the tone for the PBS NewsHour and for all public media journalists. I wish her well in her new role.”
Woodruff’s successor at the NewsHour anchor desk will be named in late 2022.
Woodruff’s distinguished career spans five decades in journalism, including 25 years as part of public broadcasting. She has solo-anchored the NewsHour since 2016 and served as a rotating anchor for the broadcast from 2009-2013. In 2013, she and the late Gwen Ifill were named co-anchors and managing editors of the PBS NewsHour, the first time a U.S. network broadcast had a female co-anchor team. Woodruff, the recipient of countless top journalism awards including the Peabody Award for Journalistic Integrity and the Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, first joined what was then known as the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, as chief Washington correspondent in 1983, serving until 1993 in that capacity. She has previously reported at NBC News and CNN.
PBS NewsHour's average nightly audience in Q3 2022 (July-September 2022) totaled nearly 2 million persons. NewsHour's average monthly digital audience for the same period topped 25M persons, while video views totaled 45.9M and social reach surpassed 13M. The 2021 Erdos & Morgan Opinion Leaders survey ranked NewsHour as the #1 most Objective, Credible, and Current media organization, while for the 19th year in a row, Americans rank PBS the most-trusted institution.
PBS NewsHour is the primary daily, breaking and special news producer for PBS. It produces PBS NewsHour, PBS News Weekend, and Washington Week; primetime and daytime breaking news and political specials; documentaries; and maintains a robust footprint across digital and social platforms.
About PBS NewsHour
PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, DC. Major corporate funding is provided by BDO, BNSF, Consumer Cellular, and Raymond James, with additional support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at www.pbs.org/newshour. You can watch and find NewsHour on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. NewsHour Productions also produces PBS News Weekend and Washington Week.
WETA and its subsidiary NewsHour Productions LLC serve local and national public media audiences by producing and distributing content of intellectual integrity and cultural merit. As the leading public broadcaster in the nation's capital, WETA serves Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on television, radio and digital platforms. WETA is the second-largest producer of programming for the PBS system, producing news and public affairs programs, including PBS NewsHour, PBS News Weekend and Washington Week; films by Ken Burns and Florentine Films, including Benjamin Franklin, Muhammad Ali and the recent The U.S. and the Holocaust; documentaries and series with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., including Making Black America: Through the Grapevine and Finding Your Roots; performance specials including In Performance at the White House, The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, National Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth; and health content from Well Beings, a multiplatform campaign of digital and broadcast content and robust resources. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org. Visit www.facebook.com/wetatvfm on Facebook and follow @WETAtvfm on Twitter.
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PBS NewsHour History
What is now PBS NewsHour began with public television’s unprecedented, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. Senate Watergate hearings in 1973 by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer. In 1975, The Robert MacNeil Report, a week nightly half-hour news program that provided in-depth coverage of a different single issue each evening, debuted locally on Thirteen/WNET in New York, with Lehrer as Washington correspondent, reporting from WETA Washington, D.C. Within months, the program was re-titled The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and was distributed nationally by PBS. In 1983, the program was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and became the nation’s first and only hour-long nightly broadcast of national news, proving there existed both a need and a substantial audience for serious, long-form journalism.
With MacNeil’s departure in 1995, the program debuted as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, produced from WETA’s studios in Arlington, Va. In December 2009, Lehrer transitioned the program from The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to PBS NewsHour, adding a rotating anchor format and integrating the on-air and online news operations.
Lehrer ultimately left the anchor desk in 2011 and in 2013, then rotating anchors, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, were named co-anchors and managing editors of PBS NewsHour. Ifill and Woodruff’s appointment marked the first time a U.S. network broadcast had a female co-anchor team. Also in 2013, PBS NewsHour expanded to the weekend with PBS NewsHour Weekend, produced in collaboration with WNET in New York. Woodruff has solo anchored the NewsHour since Ifill's untimely death in November 2016.
In 2019, NewsHour launched its West bureau at ASU, which produces broadcast updates for later airings when news warrants. In addition to launching a digital anchor desk in 2021, NewsHour also launched its Communities Initiative and roster of journalists in the Dearborn/Detroit region, Fresno, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and St. Louis.
In 2022, PBS NewsHour assumed production oversight of PBS NewsHour Weekend, since renamed PBS News Weekend, as well as WETA's Washington Week.