Gwen Ifill, who wrote for some of the country’s premier newspapers before transitioning to broadcast journalism and making her greatest mark as one of the most prominent African American panelists and moderators of her generation, died Nov. 14 at a hospice center in Washington. She was 61.
The cause was cancer, said her friend Michele Norris.
A preacher’s daughter, Ms. Ifill (pronounced EYE-ful) grew up in a home where the church was paramount but familiarity with the news of the day was essentially a second religion. The Ifills gathered nightly to watch network newscasts, and the children were expected to be conversant in the major events of the era, from the assassinations of civil rights leaders to the war in Vietnam.
Because of her father’s low pay, she liked to note that she was likely the only Washington journalist covering the Department of Housing and Urban Development who had also lived federally subsidized housing. Later, as her career took her from The Washington Post and New York Times to NBC News and presently as anchor of PBS’s “Washington Week” and co-modeator of NewsHour,” she reflected ruefully on her family’s struggle: “I make more money in a week than my father made in a year.”
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