Judy Woodruff is soon to depart from the PBS NewsHour and another chapter in this decade’s long news show mainstay on public television will unfold. It has been my pleasure to tune in Woodruff over the many years, first on CNN’s Inside Politics with cohost Bernie Shaw, a reporter I simply could never say enough good things about in his career. Woodruff proved repeatedly with interviews and her professional grinding down of a story to the essential ingredients why she was ideally suited for the NewsHour. I so respect her work and will miss her being a part of the ones we invited into our home via television.
What the public knows now as the best one hour in broadcast news on television started when I was just a year away from entering my freshman year in high school. In 1975, The Robert MacNeil Report, a week-night half-hour news program provided in-depth coverage of a different single issue each evening. When I was a teenager dinner would be over in our Hancock home and the evening network news and the local news would have come to an end. It would be 6:30 P.M. and time to change the channel (by walking to the set and manually turning the dial!) to Wisconsin Public Television for the half-hour program which devoted itself to one news story each night. It might be the reason for a major jet crash or diving into the religious turmoil in the Middle East. The show was informative and so well done with insight and professionalism. And I learned so much. It piqued my interest to want to know even more. I suspect some of my wonkiness about details and policy was formed by this show and its reporters.
Now that iconic nightly news program has alerted us that Judy Woodruff will sign off from the anchor desk on Friday, December 30. And with equal interest, we want to know what follows.
Taking Woodruff’s place at the anchor desk will be Amna Nawaz and Geoff Bennett. It goes without saying that this change is more than a new anchor and managing editor taking charge, but also a true generational shift and more diversity for a large tumultuous nation that is growing more multicultural. Bennett, 42, is Black and Nawaz, 43, is the first-generation American daughter of Pakistani parents.
The solid center of viewers to this program really demands continuity with a deep dive into hard news and serious analysis. The background of new anchors will add a fresh layer of understanding and questions about the topics of the day, and that is to be applauded. We gain much by listening to others and having fresh perspectives. It is reported that one change to the show which will begin at the top of the new year will be avenues opened to allow younger viewers to access the news in ways that mesh with their daily use of social media. For decades-long viewers such as myself, we are promised to have the same journalistic professionalism that was the reason we started our journey with the program back when President Carter was in the White House.