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Ifill to speak on news diversity at Cronkite School

February 14, 2013

Gwen Ifill, one of the nation’s most recognized and respected television journalists, will give a free public lecture April 1 on diversity in the news.

Ifill is managing editor and moderator of the PBS news show “Washington Week,” the longest-running prime time news and public affairs program on television, and is senior correspondent for another long-running news program, the “PBS NewsHour.” She also has been a frequent guest on other news programs such as “Meet the Press.”

The best-selling author of “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” Ifill will discuss “Diversity and Inclusion in the News.”

Her appearance is sponsored by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as part of an ASU award given to the school last year in recognition of its efforts to advance diversity and inclusion. The inaugural Institutional Inclusion Award included a grant to fund the visit under the university’s Diversity Scholar Series, a biannual event designed to stimulate conversations about diversity, social justice and policymaking.

“We are delighted to co-host Gwen Ifill as a university Diversity Scholar,” said Delia Saenz, vice provost for Institutional Inclusion. “Her prominence as a journalist and intellect on issues of national importance exemplify the level of dialogue around inclusion issues that ASU seeks to promote on our campus and in the broader community. Ifill’s visit sets a high bar for future diversity scholars co-hosted with academic colleges.”

Ifill’s talk will take place at 7 p.m., April 1, in the First Amendment Forum of the Cronkite School on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Ifill has been called the most successful female African-American news correspondent of all time. She has covered six presidential campaigns and moderated two vice presidential debates – the 2004 debate between Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat John Edwards and the 2008 debate between Democratic Sen. Joe Biden and Republican Gov. Sarah Palin.

She began her career as an intern at the Boston Herald-American and went on to report for the Baltimore Evening Sun. She was local and national political reporter for The Washington Post, chief congressional White House correspondent for The New York Times and chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News.

In 1999, she became moderator of the “Washington Week” program, hosting a robust roundtable discussion each week with award-winning journalists who provide reporting and analysis of the major stories emanating from the nation’s capital. Now in its 44th year, "Washington Week" is the longest-running prime-time news and public affairs program on television. During the 2008 presidential campaign season, "Washington Week" conducted a nine-city series of road shows across America with live audiences. The regular broadcasts and whistle-stop series earned the program a Peabody Award.

Her work also has been honored by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and Ebony Magazine.  

A graduate of Simmons College in Boston, Ifill holds more than 20 honorary doctorates and serves on the boards of the News Literacy Project and the Committee to Protect Journalists. She is a fellow with the American Academy of Sciences.

Previous Diversity Scholar speakers have included Dave Treuer, novelist and writer of Native American fiction; Chon A. Noreiga, director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Chicano Studies Research Center; Wafaa Bilal, assistant arts professor at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University; Lori Arviso Alford, the first board-certified Navajo woman surgeon; Daniel Bernstine, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council and former president of Portland State University; and Patricia Gurin, the Nancy Cantor Professor at the University of Michigan, whose research played a key role in Supreme Court deliberations on affirmative action.