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Gwen Ifill

Journalist

Gwen Ifill on moderating Washington Week and changes she brought to the program

02:57

I really want to keep my mind open to all possibilities. If I make up my mind in advance what I believe about something ... I stop listening. We all stop listening once you've made up your mind … I want to be curious. I want to maintain my curiosity about what the answers to the question might be. And I want to hold out for the possibility that someone will surprise me. 

About this interview

In her hour-long Archive interview, Gwen Ifill discusses her early love of writing and reading and how that carried her into a career in journalism. She knew at the age of nine-years-old that she wanted to be a journalist and later majored in Communications at Simmons College to help make her dream a reality. She describes working in print journalism for many years, covering politics for The Baltimore Evening Sun, Presidential Elections for The Washington Post and Clinton's election and the White House for The New York Times. She recalls her first appearance on television and shares how mentor Tim Russert convinced her to get into television full-time. Ifill details stories she covered at NBC News, and outlines her transition from NBC to PBS. She speaks of becoming the first female, African-American moderator of Washington Week and talks of her work on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (aka PBS NewsHour). She discusses her experiences moderating Edwards/Cheney and Palin/Biden Vice-Presidential debates and expresses her thoughts on the Saturday Night Live sketch with Queen Latifah that parodies the Palin/Biden debate. Ifill offers tips on how to be a good moderator and gives her views on the future of television news. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 20, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

I really want to keep my mind open to all possibilities. If I make up my mind in advance what I believe about something ... I stop listening. We all stop listening once you've made up your mind … I want to be curious. I want to maintain my curiosity about what the answers to the question might be. And I want to hold out for the possibility that someone will surprise me. 

Interview Highlights

Embedded thumbnail for Gwen Ifill on moderating Washington Week and changes she brought to the program

Gwen Ifill on moderating Washington Week and changes she brought to the program

Gwen Ifill on moderating Washington Week and changes she brought to the program02:57
Embedded thumbnail for Gwen Ifill on topics she covered on NBC News and Meet the Press

Gwen Ifill on topics she covered on NBC News and Meet the Press

Gwen Ifill on topics she covered on NBC News and Meet the Press01:36
Embedded thumbnail for Gwen Ifill on moderating a Palin/Biden Vice-presidential debate

Gwen Ifill on moderating a Palin/Biden Vice-presidential debate

Gwen Ifill on moderating a Palin/Biden Vice-presidential debate 02:14
Embedded thumbnail for Gwen Ifill on how she keeps her personal views out of her reporting

Gwen Ifill on how she keeps her personal views out of her reporting

Gwen Ifill on how she keeps her personal views out of her reporting 01:21
Embedded thumbnail for Gwen Ifill on tips for being a good moderator

Gwen Ifill on tips for being a good moderator

Gwen Ifill on tips for being a good moderator 01:12
Embedded thumbnail for Gwen Ifill on Queen Latifah playing her in a Saturday Night Live sketch

Gwen Ifill on Queen Latifah playing her in a Saturday Night Live sketch

Gwen Ifill on Queen Latifah playing her in a Saturday Night Live sketch01:08