NewsHour Anchor Gwen Ifill Leaves Behind Journalism Legacy for Students

Last Updated by Nancy Rogan on

The landscape of American journalism changed today with the news of the passing of Gwen Ifill, PBS NewsHour co-anchor and host of “Washington Week.”

In remembering Ifill’s contributions to political coverage over the last 30 years, President Barack Obama said Monday during his first press conference since the Nov. 8 election that she “did her country a great service.”

“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,” the President said.

Ifill’s legacy and her dedication to unbiased reporting will serve as an example to future generations of journalists and viewers.

Below is a previous article posted in June of 2015 about her influence on youth.

This April, Gwen Ifill received a letter that began: “Dear Ms. Ifill, I hope you remember me, but if you do not, my name is Sophie Sabin.” That letter became a catalyst to an inspirational moment for hundreds of middle school students in Newark, New Jersey, today.

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Sophie admired Ifill for years as a middle school student at Philip’s Academy Charter School in Newark. “She was a role model for who I wanted to be,” she said.

Sophie first “met” Ifill in April 2014 in a Skype interview for PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs while she was an eighth-grade student participating in the program at Philip’s Academy. One of her first questions for Ifill: why would she take the time to give an interview to a middle school student? Ifill said: “It’s because I once was you.”
 

That line stuck with Sophie, and that summer Student Reporting Labs selected her as a Student Reporting Lab All-Star, giving her the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and meet Ifill face-to-face.

After completing her first year in high school, Sophie wanted to give back to the middle school that had supported her. She wrote to Ifill to ask her to speak at her old middle school’s graduation ceremony. “Just as you inspired me with your words, I want my former classmates to have this same chance,” she wrote.

Ifill accepted the invitation and delivered the commencement speech today at Philip’s Academy, where the two met in person once more.

Sophie said that Ifill had helped her reflect on her goals for the future — a process that she wanted to share with others.

“I wanted the students at my previous school to be able to get the same experience that I got, to be able to get the same opportunity to ask themselves: where do I want to be in 20 years? What path do I want to set for myself? What kind of people do I want to imitate? Those are the questions I started asking myself,” she said.

Sara Mosle, Sophie’s teacher at Philip’s Academy, said it was inspiring to see Sophie grow through her experience with Student Reporting Labs and connection with Ifill. “It’s the very reason you go into teaching,” she said.

Click here to watch Gwen’s commencement address to the graduating middle school students at Philip’s Academy Charter School in Newark.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs is part of  American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The Philip’s Academy Student Reporting Lab is a partnership with public television stations NJTV in New Jersey and WNET in New York and works with mentor NJTV correspondent Lauren Wanko.”

Click here for the online article. 

 

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