Gwen Ifill death: Prominent African-American PBS journalist dies at 61

She had a long, storied career that led her to the presidential debate stage in 2016

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The Independent Online

Longtime PBS anchor and prominent African-American journalist Gwen Ifill has died. She was 61. 

Ms Ifill died after she succumbed to cancer at a hospice facility on Monday in Washington, according to PBS Newshour executive producer Sara Just. 

Ms Ifill was the co-managing editor and co-host of Newshour, alongside Judy Woodruff. She also served as managing editor and moderator for Washington Week.

She began her career in 1981 working for the Baltimore Evening Sun. She later moved on to work for the Washington Post and the New York Times, where she covered Congress and national electoral politics. 

Ms Ifill moderated the vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008. She became the first black woman to moderate a presdiential debate in 2016, as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton faced off in the Democratic primaries. 

"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," said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. "She often said that her job was to bring light rather than heat to issues of importance to our society."

In 2009, Ms Ifill authored The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. It was published as President Barack Obama took the oath of office for his first term. 

"Michelle and I want to send our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill's family," he said. "I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting even when I was on the receiving end of one of her tough interviews.  

"She was an especially powerful role model."