GWEN IFILL LIFE, REMARKABLE CAREER IN JOURNALISM AND DEATH
Distinguished award-winning veteran journalist, reporter, news anchor Gwen Ifill life and her remarkable career in journalism has come to an unwanted end as she passed away on Monday, November 14, 2016 at the age of 61 after a yearlong battle with uterine cancer. This has indeed become a huge loss in the field of journalism as she was considered to be a supernova in this profession, an excellent talented professional and a mentor for all the journalist who saw her as a great source of inspiration. Gwen Ifill had been away from recent PBS’s election coverage because of the continuing health issues. She had also taken sick leave in May because of her health condition.
Born on September 29, 1955 to the former Eleanor Husband and Oliver Urcille Ifill Sr., an A.M.E. minister in Jamaica, Queens, Gwendolyn L. Ifill had a strongly religious upbringing. She happened to grow and spend her childhood in many places like Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Pennsylvania,, Buffalo, Massachusetts as her father was periodically reassigned in different places.
Career and Achievements
Gwen Ifill life took a step ahead when she decided to study in Simmons College in Boston with major in communications, and also worked as an intern. Ms. Ifill had said once that she had always known that she wanted to be a journalist from the age of nine. A great vision indeed! In 1977, after her graduation, Ifill started her career for the Boston Herald-American as a reporter. She said that she got her first job by exceeding expectations. Her major focus was on politics with her position at Baltimore’s Evening Sun. She also got the first opportunity in front of the cameras as the host of a news show.
Ifill however, had to deal with obstacles of being a black woman in the business of news and overcame it well too. Gwen Ifill remarkable career can be reflected in her reporting positions in prominent publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC and moderator of PBS’s ‘Washington Week in Review’ in 1999. Ifill also had joined The Times in 1991, being a correspondent of White House and also covered Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Impressed by Gwen’s skills, PBS hired Ifill in its news program, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Washington Week. She also worked as a senior correspondent for NewsHour, a news anchor for Lehrer, program’s moderator and managing editorfor Washington week.
Ifill became the only African-American woman moderator, moderating the 2004 vice presidential debate which took place between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, and then again the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in 2008. Gwen Ifill also moderated a debate between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders last year. In her long journalist career, Gwen received fifteen honorary degrees and also wrote a book named The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama which was published in 2009. She also became a board member of several organizations like Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
With large number of followers in social media and her number of articles and biography flooded in internet, one can have an idea how popular she was in hearts of millions of people who applauded and admired her for her deeds.
With the news of her demise, social media like Twitter was flooded with grief messages from all over the political and journalism spectrum. Some extracts by condolence speech of President Obama, “Michelle and I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill’s family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. Gwen was a friend of ours. She was an extraordinary journalist. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews. Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today.”
Gwen Ifill in a 2007 Op-Ed defending the Rutger’s University women’s basketball team “Every time a young black girl shyly approaches me for an autograph or writes or calls or stops me on the street to ask how she can become a journalist, I feel an enormous responsibility. It’s more than simply being a role model. I know I have to be a voice for them as well.” She became that voice and would always speak from heart of every determined person dreaming to make a way in journalism spectrum..