October 28, 2021

Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff to Co-Anchor ‘NewsHour’

The PBS “NewsHour,” which was co-anchored for decades by the two men who created it, will soon be co-anchored by two women.

PBS announced on Tuesday that Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff would take over the nightly newscast in September, putting an end to the rotating anchor format that has been in effect for several years. Ms. Ifill and Ms. Woodruff will also share the managing editor responsibilities for the program.

The appointments are another milestone for women on television and in journalism, seven years after Katie Couric became the first solo anchor of a network nightly newscast. PBS noted in a news release that “this will mark the first time a network broadcast has had a female co-anchor team.”

The co-anchor arrangement harks back to the 1970s, when Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil founded the nightly newscast that was later named “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” The two men jointly presented the program until 1995, when Mr. MacNeil retired. Mr. Lehrer continued to anchor until 2011, when he retired. Their company, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, remains in charge of the “NewsHour,” and they were involved in the discussions that culminated in Tuesday’s announcement.

“If Gwen and I can be the team that Jim and Robin were, we will consider that a success,” Ms. Woodruff said in a telephone interview.

Asked what advice the two former co-anchors had given them, Ms. Ifill said in a separate interview, “They told us to stick close together and to stay friends.”

Ms. Woodruff and Ms. Ifill already are close, having crossed paths in Washington, where they both live, countless times, and having “appeared on endless panels together discussing women in journalism,” as Ms. Ifill put it.

Ms. Ifill, who is black, said she and Ms. Woodruff were conscious of the gender context of their appointment.

“When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that’s the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,” she said.

She continued, “I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal. That it won’t seem like any big breakthrough at all.”

Ms. Ifill, 57, a veteran of newspapers including The New York Times, was a Washington correspondent for NBC before becoming the moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week” and a senior correspondent for the “NewsHour” in 1999. Ms. Woodruff, 66, was the chief Washington correspondent for the “NewsHour” in the 1980s. After a dozen years at CNN and some outside work, she rejoined the program as a senior correspondent in 2007.

Tuesday’s announcement was, among other things, an admission that a rotating anchor format is not preferable for a long period of time. At the end of 2009, as Mr. Lehrer neared retirement, Ms. Ifill and Ms. Woodruff and three other correspondents — Jeffrey Brown, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner — started to take turns anchoring the “NewsHour” with him. After he retired, this format remained in place, with two of the five anchoring each weeknight. “It was a way to give each of them a chance,” said Linda Winslow, the program’s executive producer, praising the team of “really powerful people.”

But the arrangement made production of the “NewsHour” unwieldy at times, and it confused viewers, at least some of whom expect to see the same face or faces every night.

Last year, Ms. Ifill and Ms. Woodruff were tapped to anchor PBS’s coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. “You never know until you’re elbow to elbow how well it’s going to work,” Ms. Ifill said. “It worked really well for us. We sat next to each other and had a ball.”

They were teamed up again on election night. Ms. Winslow said the campaign-year anchor work was noticed by “NewsHour” producers and PBS executives, and “it just struck us that we were able to promote our product better when we had identifiable anchors.”

“It wasn’t, to be frank, an unattractive feature that they would become the first female co-anchor team of a nightly newscast,” Ms. Winslow added.

The anchor change was completed last week. It might have happened sooner, but the “NewsHour” faced a serious financial shortfall earlier this year, which culminated in a round of layoffs and the closure of its two bureaus outside the Washington area, where the program is produced. Ms. Winslow said the changes at the anchor desk were unrelated to budget issues.

Mr. Brown, Mr. Suarez and Ms. Warner will remain with the “NewsHour,” now as “chief correspondents,” each with an area of expertise “that will also help define the program,” Ms. Winslow said.

PBS also announced on Tuesday that Hari Sreenivasan, the anchor of the forthcoming “PBS NewsHour Weekend” program, would be a senior correspondent, reporting several times a week from New York, where the weekend program will be produced.

A specific start date for Ms. Ifill and Ms. Woodruff has not been determined, but PBS hopes for it to coincide with the premiere of “PBS NewsHour Weekend” on Sept. 7.

Ms. Woodruff will anchor all five nights a week, while Ms. Ifill will anchor Monday through Thursday, peeling away on Friday for “Washington Week.”

The two women seemed realistic about the challenge ahead of them: to not just maintain the nightly audience for the “NewsHour,” but to somehow expand it.

“This show is not going to be overhauled. We think it’s a treasure the way it is,” Ms. Woodruff said. “But we do want to do some tweaking. I think we have the freedom to do some experimenting.”

Both women said they saw opportunities to more fully integrate the Web and social media into the program, as virtually all news programs have sought to do in recent years. “We want to go where the viewers are,” Ms. Ifill said, “not think that they’re going to come find us.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/business/media/gwen-ifill-and-judy-woodruff-to-co-anchor-newshour.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Web Hackings Rattle Media Companies

PBS fought on Monday and Tuesday to restore the Web sites for two news programs on public television, “Frontline” and “PBS NewsHour,” which were crippled by hackers who said they were angered by coverage of WikiLeaks.

The incidents were the latest examples of what security experts call “reputational attacks” on media companies that publish material that the hackers disagree with. Such companies are particularly vulnerable to such attacks because many of them depend on online advertising and subscription revenue from Web sites that can be upended by the clicks of a hacker’s keyboard — and because unlike other targets, like government entities and defense contractors, they are less likely to have state-of-the-art security to thwart attacks.

The PBS attack was said to be motivated by a “Frontline” film about WikiLeaks that was broadcast and published online on May 24. Some supporters of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, and Bradley Manning, a soldier who is suspected of having shared hundreds of thousands of government files with WikiLeaks, criticized the film and claimed that it portrayed the two men in a negative light.

When the anonymous hackers posted a fake news article on a PBS blog and published passwords apparently obtained from PBS servers late Sunday night, they attached complaints about the film, which was titled “WikiSecrets.”

Staff member at PBS said they were appalled by the hackings — which were perceived to be attempts to chill independent journalism — and, to a lesser extent, by the long delay in having the sites restored. In a telephone interview on Tuesday, David Fanning, the executive producer of “Frontline,” called the incidents a “real intrusion into the press” and said they should not be characterized as mere pranks.

“This is what repressive governments do,” he said. “This is what people who don’t want information out in the world do — they try to shut the presses.”

Mr. Fanning said “Frontline” included multiple points of view in “WikiSecrets” and provided forums for criticism of the film. Other staffers, speaking anonymously because they had not been authorized by PBS to speak on the record, did not point the finger for the hack directly at WikiLeaks, but some did suggest that it would be hypocritical for any supporters of such a group to try to tamp down on freedom of information.

From time to time, other news organizations have wound up in the bull’s-eye of hacker groups, sometimes after they have published unflattering information about those very groups.

Last December, Web sites belonging to Gawker Media were forced to stop publishing when hackers gained access and stole the names and passwords of some users. Gawker had been critical of hacker groups like the one called Anonymous that had attacked security firms and Web sites of the Egyptian government.

The group that claimed responsibility for the PBS attack this week, called Lulzsec, also hacked Fox.com, the Web site of the Fox broadcast network, earlier this spring and divulged personal information about some of the potential contestants on a reality show. “We don’t like you very much,” the group wrote in a letter touting the successful break-in.

Individual subjects of media coverage have also been known to retaliate using hacking tactics: in a well-publicized case that led to a conviction last year, a New Jersey man spread a computer virus that searched for mentions of his name in online articles and tried to shut down the hosts of those articles.

The PBS attack appeared to start with Sunday’s publication of a fake news article about the rapper Tupac Shakur being spotted alive in New Zealand. (He died in 1996.) Then, on Monday afternoon, the “Frontline” site was infiltrated, Mr. Fanning said.

Comparing it to a rock being chucked through a storefront window, he said, “I don’t believe it will in any way hinder our continuing reporting on these sorts of subjects, but it is a cautionary note.”

Among the news sources affected was Tehran Bureau, a well-regarded source of news about Iran that is operated under the “Frontline” umbrella. The Web sites appeared to be back online on Tuesday afternoon.

Robert Corn-Revere, a partner at the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine who specializes in First Amendment law, compared the hacking incident to the vandalism of a newspaper box or the theft of the papers from the box. “Something like that is not a protected First Amendment act, even though you’re expressing frustration with a newspaper,” he said.

When the Web site for “PBS NewsHour” was disrupted, staffers turned to sites like YouTube, where they posted Monday’s newscast, and Tumblr, where they published transcripts and the news organization’s features.

PBS said that visitors to the sites did not have their personal information compromised, as has occurred in other hacking cases.

“As this breach shows, there’s more than just personally identifiable information at risk,” said Phil Blank, a security analyst with Javelin Strategy Research. Many Web sites, he said, fail to take appropriate steps to combat “Web site defacing” and “reputational risk.”

In the event of a hacker attack, news organizations, he said, “lose both ways — they lose from the ‘Gee, don’t they take care of their Web site?’ perspective, and they lose from the ‘How do I know the information they’re putting out is accurate?’ perspective.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0a09a445e24e3bbabfba61daef54ee87