PBS newscaster Gwen Ifill dies at 61 after battle with cancer

Journalist Gwen Ifill accepts a Lifetime Achievement award onstage at The Women's Media Center 2015 Women's Media Awards on November 5, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for The Women's Media Center)

Journalist Gwen Ifill accepts a Lifetime Achievement award onstage at The Women's Media Center 2015 Women's Media Awards on November 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for The Women's Media Center)

LOS ANGELES — Gwen Ifill, the veteran journalist and newscaster who co-hosted PBS NewsHour, has died, her close friend Michele Norris confirmed on Monday.

Ifill, 61, had been battling cancer.

PBS said in a statement that she died Monday “surrounded by family and friends.”

“Gwen was one of America’s leading lights in journalism and a fundamental reason public media is considered a trusted window on the world by audiences across the nation,” Paula Kerger, president & CEO, said.

“She often said that her job was to bring light rather than heat to issues of importance to our society,” Kerger said.

Ifill, who worked at The Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC News, became moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week in Review” in 1999 and co-host of NewsHour in 2013. She and co-host Judy Woodruff were the first women to co-host a nightly news broadcast.

Ifill also moderated the 2004 vice-presidential debate and the 2008 vice-presidential debate, as well as a 2016 Democratic primary debate.

In a telephone interview, Norris remembered Ifill as a dedicated journalist, someone who stayed true to the values of her craft amid wrenching changes across the news industry.

Ifill was scheduled to receive a prestigious award, the John Chancellor Award, at a Columbia University ceremony on Wednesday.

“Just heartbroken about losing Gwen Ifill,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd wrote on Twitter. “She owned every beat she was on, whether at the @nytimes @NBCNews or @NewsHour or anywhere else.”

Ifill had been facing ongoing health issues that forced her to take a leave of absence from NewsHour in May. She was also absent from the show last week.

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