Iconic PBS News journalist dies at age 61

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In the wake of the election, many have been sent reeling while others claim victory in one of the most polemical voting processes the United States have ever seen.

And then some events make us stop and appreciate others regardless of political leanings or alignment.

Gwen Ifill, one of the more influential and renowned journalists of the 21st century died yesterday after battling endometrial cancer. Before embarking on a career with PBS as a newscaster, Ifill worked at The Baltimore Evening Sun, New York Times, Washington Post and NBC. On August 10, 2016, she won the John Chancellor Award—a perennial award that is observed by a distinguished group of journalists for a reporter that is not well-known within the industry, but is highly respected and provides exceptional content on a consistent basis.

The ceremony is expected to posthumously awarded at Columbia University on November 16, 2016. Ifill was the first African-American to receive the award in its 21 year history.

Upon her death, President Obama provided a statement regarding her importance within the field of journalism.

“Whether she reported from the convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or the anchor’s desk, she not only informed today’s citizens, she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists,” Obama said. “She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect, and for whom she blazed a trail as one half of the first all-female network anchor team on network news.”

Ifill was perhaps most known for breaking onto the public scene when she moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential elections. The former was between Dick Cheney and John Edwards while the latter election was pitted with Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Before the 2008 vice presidential debate, her objectivity was put into question by her critics after publishing a book entitled The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. 

The controversial book, which was initially scheduled for a release prior to a 2009 Inauguration release date, was condemned by both right-wing and independent politicians as it focused too much on the President on the eve of the 2008 election.

After the elections, Ifill eventually gained employment at PBS where she co-anchored and edited the show NewsHour alongside Judy Woodruff.

Regardless of partisan basis, Ifill will be remembered as a sedulous journalist by many and in the years to come as someone who devoted much work and effort to cultivating a better environment for reporters abroad.

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