Washington Week has been a Friday night staple (or now a Saturday morning DVR viewing) since I was a teenager. Over the decades Public Television consistently has provided this program with top reporters and journalists as they sift through the news of the week and provide analysis and perspective. This weekend a new chapter started for the show with Yamiche Alcindor taking the reins. I am very pleased with the choice for the anchor.
I really gravitated towards Paul Duke who anchored the show when I started watching in my high school years. He would continue for two decades. During those years I was fascinated by Duke for the reason he was substantive but always serene and laid back. People who commanded attention with such a calm demeanor have always appealed to me when it comes to news programming.
Then I simply loved the nearly 16 years that Gwen Ifill took on the role and dived into the issues each week. I just knew there was something smart and steady with her hand on the broadcasts. She became one of the first African American women to preside over a major national political show. The announcement of her death came to me as I sat in a dentist chair with CNN broadcasting above my head.
She was not just another reporter or journalist I turned to for news. She was more than a graceful and bright interviewer who added context to the headlines. What made Ifill special was her presence on television, that even in bad times, made us aware there was a way to think it through and make sense out of what had happened.
America needs ‘stabilizers’ such as she proved to be for decades. In times of confusion over complex Supreme Court cases, or after savage terrorism she had the ability to pry into the mix of facts and report so a deeper and more seasoned view could be had. She had a keen sense for getting to the center of the story with her interviews. And through it all, I just knew that she would be a pure delight off camera.
Now the leading chair at Washington Week features Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter that is fact-based, intelligent, and mindful of the journalism which needs to be done for the changing demographics and power structures in the nation. On her first broadcast, she paid tribute to the guiding hand of Ifill, and it was a most fitting hand in glove approach as the show moves forward.
Friday nights have obviously changed since my years as a teenager in Hancock, or the ones when as a young adult I watched the show in my first apartment. Now I have Saturday morning breakfast and view the broadcast recorded from the previous evening. No matter, however, where or when the show is watched the professional nature of Washington Week has never altered itself.
And so it goes.