News & Politics

Gwen Ifill Dies at 61

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Gwen Ifill has died, WETA confirms. She was 61 and was being treated for cancer.

Here’s a statement from PBS NewsHour:

It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must share that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away this afternoon following several months of cancer treatment. She was surrounded by loving family and many friends whom we ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers.

A note from Sara Just, PBS NewsHour executive producer and WETA SVP

“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.

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.”

Ifill was co-anchor of PBS NewsHour and moderated WETA’s Washington Week. She was a Washingtonian of the Year recently and spoke about the need for diversity in newsrooms: “The real bias,” she said, “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.” Her Washington Week fellowships sought to train journalists from diverse backgrounds. “We can’t expect the world to get better by itself,” Ifill told Washingtonian last year. “We have to create something we can leave the next generation.”

Speaking at Utica College’s commencement last year, Ifill said, “My charge to you today is that if you see something, do something. … It’s not essential that you care about everything, but it is essential that you care about something that goes beyond yourself.”

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.