News & Politics

Washingtonian of the Year 2015: Gwen Ifill

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

“The real bias,” journalist Gwen Ifill says, “is the news we don’t cover, the stories we don’t see if people deciding what is news all come from the same place.” Ifill, co-anchor of the PBS NewsHour and moderator of WETA’s Washington Week, was born in New York and moved around from there: “We lived for a time in public housing. My father was a minister, and we lived in parsonages.” Journalism seemed natural to a kid who loved to write and whose family read the paper and watched the news. Now Ifill is opening doors for journalists from diverse backgrounds. Washington Week Fellowships give college grads the chance to work with the show’s staff, helping produce broadcast and web content. She’s also involved in the News Literacy Project, a program for middle- and high-schoolers that teaches the difference between information and spin. Journalism has changed a lot since the ’70s, when Ifill started out. She sees an opportunity: “We can’t expect the world to get better by itself. We have to create something we can leave the next generation.”

This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.