Anchored by Judy Woodruff
, the program's weekday broadcasts run one hour (6:00-7:00 PM ET) and are produced by Washington, D.C.
PBS station WETA-TV
. From August 5, 2013, to November 11, 2016, Woodruff and then-co-anchor Gwen Ifill
were the first and only all-female anchor team of a national nightly news program on broadcast television.
On Saturdays and Sundays, PBS distributes a 30-minute edition of the program, PBS NewsHour Weekend
, anchored by Hari Sreenivasan
and others and produced in New York City
The Robert MacNeil Report
and The MacNeil/Lehrer Report
This recognition led to the creation of The Robert MacNeil Report
, a half-hour local news program on WNET, which debuted on October 20, 1975; each episode of the program covered a single issue in depth. On December 1, 1975, the program began to air on PBS stations nationwide. It was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report
on September 6, 1976.
Most editions employed a two-anchor, two-city format, with MacNeil based in New York City and Lehrer at WETA's studios in Arlington, Virginia. Charlayne Hunter-Gault
joined the series as correspondent in 1978, serving as substitute host for MacNeil and Lehrer whenever either had the night off. She became the series’ national correspondent in 1983. In September 1981, production of the program was taken over by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, a partnership between MacNeil, Lehrer and Gannett
; the latter sold its stake in the production company in 1986. Liberty Media
bought a 67% controlling equity stake in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions in 1994, but MacNeil and Lehrer retained editorial control.
The final title sequence as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, used from May 17, 2006, to December 4, 2009
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
and The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer
Having decided to start competing with the nightly news programs on ABC
instead of complementing them, the program expanded to one hour on September 5, 1983, incorporating other changes, such as the introduction of "documentary reportage from the field";
it became known at that time as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
. Lester Crystal
was its founding executive producer.
MacNeil retired from the program on October 20, 1995, leaving Lehrer as the sole anchor. (Hunter-Gault left in June 1997.
) Accordingly, the program was renamed The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
on October 23.
On January 16, 1996, The NewsHour
announced the creation of its official website at PBS Online. The NewsHour
won a Peabody Award
in 2003 for the feature report Jobless Recovery: Non-Working Numbers
On May 17, 1999, The NewsHour
adopted a new graphics package, but refreshed the music from 1983. On October 4, 1999, Gwen Ifill joined The NewsHour
team as a new correspondent. She was a female anchor of a national nightly news program on broadcast television.
Effective January 17, 2000, The NewsHour
added "America Online Keyword: PBS" to its ending screen for a 3-year agreement through April 22, 2003.
For only the website, the program took effect on April 23, 2003.
On March 3, 2003, the program added dates from the 1999 graphics in the beginning.
On November 17, 2003, The NewsHour
added music in the beginning with dates.
Departure of Jim Lehrer and switch to co-anchors (2009–2013)
Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff at the 2012 Republican National Convention
On May 11, 2009, PBS announced that the program would be revamped on December 7 of that year
under a revised title, the PBS NewsHour
In addition to increased integration between the NewsHour
website and nightly broadcast, the updated production returned to a two-anchor format.
Lehrer described the overhaul as the first phase in his move toward retirement.
On September 27, 2010, PBS NewsHour
was presented with the Chairman's Award at the 31st News & Documentary Emmy Awards
, with MacNeil, Lehrer, Crystal, and former executive producer Linda Winslow receiving the award on the show's behalf.
Lehrer formally ended his tenure as a regular anchor of the program on June 6, 2011. He continued to occasionally anchor on Fridays, when he usually led the political analysis segment with Mark Shields
and David Brooks
, until December 30, 2011.
Transfer of production, expansion to weekends and the west (2013–present)
On August 6, 2013, Gwen Ifill
and Judy Woodruff
were named co-anchors and co-managing editors of the NewsHour
. They shared anchor duties on the Monday through Thursday editions, with Woodruff anchoring solo on Fridays due to Ifill's duties as host of the political discussion program Washington Week,
which was also produced Friday evenings.
For much of its history, the PBS NewsHour
aired only Monday through Friday, but on September 7, 2013, it expanded to include editions on Saturday and Sunday, with Hari Sreenivasan
serving as anchor. Although the weekend broadcasts are branded PBS NewsHour Weekend
, they air for a half-hour. The Saturday and Sunday editions originate from the New York City studios of WNET, as opposed to the program's main production facilities at the Arlington, Virginia, studios of WETA-TV
Plans for a weekend edition of PBS NewsHour
had been considered as early as March 2013.
MacNeil/Lehrer Productions announced in a letter to the show's staffers on October 8, 2013, that it had offered to transfer ownership in the PBS NewsHour
to WETA. In the letter, Lehrer and MacNeil cited their reduced involvement with the program's production since their departures from anchoring, as well as "the probability of increasing our fundraising abilities."
WETA's board of trustees approved the transfer on June 17, 2014, and it took effect on July 1. At that time, NewsHour Productions, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of WETA, took over production of the program. WETA also acquired MacNeil/Lehrer Productions' archives, documentaries, and projects, though not the company's name. PBS NewsHour Weekend
was not affected by the ownership transfer and continues to be produced by WNET.
On July 20, 2015, the PBS NewsHour
introduced an overhauled visual appearance for its weekday broadcasts, debuting a new minimalist set designed by Eric Siegel and George Allison that heavily incorporates PBS's longtime "Everyman" logo. The program also introduced a new graphics package by Troika Design Group and original theme music by Edd Kalehoff
, which incorporates a reorchestration of the nine-note "Question and Answer" musical signature that has featured in the program's theme since its premiere in 1975 and a musical signature that had been featured on Nightly Business Report
between 2002 and 2010. PBS NewsHour Weekend
retained its original graphics package and the theme music by David Cebert until August 29, 2015, when it transitioned to the same theme music and a reworked version of the graphics package used for the weekday broadcasts.
Ifill took brief breaks from her NewsHour
anchor duties in the late spring and in November 2016 (and was also absent from the program's presidential election
coverage on November 8), as she had been undergoing treatment for advanced stage breast
and endometrial cancer
. After her death was announced on November 14, 2016, that evening's edition of the PBS NewsHour
was dedicated to Ifill and her influence on journalism, featuring tributes from Woodruff, Sreenivasan, former colleagues and program contributors (news content was relegated to the standard news summary, which aired during the second half-hour).
Although the program initially featured guest anchors on some editions between January and March 2017, Woodruff effectively now serves as sole anchor.
In 2018, The Plastic Problem
aired, which then went on to win a Peabody Award
presented at the 2019 awards ceremony.
On October 14, 2019, the PBS Newshour
launched "PBS Newshour
West", a Western United States bureau at Arizona State University
's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
. Anchored by Stephanie Sy, the bureau produces its own news summary with up-to-date information on events that develop after the original broadcast. A version of the program with this summary is shown to viewers in the Western United States and to online and East Coast viewers watching re-broadcasts.
Production and ratings
Behind the scenes at The NewsHour
, during a Gen. Peter Pace
interview on November 7, 2005
The program is notable for being shown on public television
. There are no interruptions for advertisements (though like most public television programs, there are "corporate image" advertisements at the beginning and end of each broadcast, as well as barker interruptions extolling viewers to donate to their local PBS member station or member network during locally produced pledge drives
, which are replaced by encore presentations of a select story segment from the past year for stations that not holding a drive during that time).
The program has a more deliberate pace than the news broadcasts of the commercial networks it competes against, allowing for deeper detail in its story packages and feature segments. At the start of the program, the lead story is covered in depth, followed by a news summary that lasts roughly between six and eight minutes, briefly explaining many of the top national and international news headlines; international stories often include excerpts of reports filed by ITN
correspondents. This is usually followed by three or four longer news segments, typically running six to twelve minutes, which explore a few of the events mentioned in the headline segment in depth and include discussions with experts, newsmakers, and/or commentators. The program formerly included a reflective essay on a regular basis, but these have been curtailed in recent years; since Woodruff and Ifill became anchors, these essays have mainly aired as part of the end-of-show segment "Brief, but Spectacular".
On Fridays, the program features political analysis and discussion between two regular contributors, one from each of the Republican Party
parties, and one host from among the senior correspondents. Since January 2021, the usual participants have been Washington Post
columnist Jonathan Capehart
and The New York Times
columnist David Brooks
. Analysts who fill in when Capehart or Brooks are absent have included David Gergen
, Thomas Oliphant
, Rich Lowry
, William Kristol
, Ramesh Ponnuru
, Ruth Marcus
, Michael Gerson
, David Corn
and E. J. Dionne
. On Mondays, a similar segment, "Politics Monday", features analysis and discussion of political issues with contributors Amy Walter
, national editor of The Cook Political Report
, and Tamara Keith
, Washington, D.C. correspondent for NPR
The program's senior correspondents are Woodruff and Jeffrey Brown
(Arts, Culture & Society). Essayists have included Anne Taylor Fleming, Richard Rodriguez
, Clarence Page
and Roger Rosenblatt
Correspondents have been Tom Bearden, Betty Ann Bowser
, Susan Dentzer
, Elizabeth Farnsworth
, Kwame Holman
, Spencer Michels, Fred de Sam Lazaro (on the Agents For Change
series), the economics correspondent Paul Solman
), Malcolm Brabant
Lehrer and Ifill were frequent moderators of U.S. political debates. By November 2008, Lehrer had moderated more than ten debates between major U.S. presidential candidates.
In 2008, Ifill moderated a debate between U.S. vice presidential candidates Joe Biden
and Sarah Palin
; in 2004, she moderated a debate between candidates Dick Cheney
and John Edwards
On March 31, 2003, after the United States–led invasion of Iraq
in 2003, the PBS NewsHour
began what it called its "Honor Roll", a short segment displaying in silence the picture, name, rank, and hometown of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. On January 4, 2006, military personnel killed in Afghanistan were added to the segment.
According to Nielsen ratings
at the program's website
, 2.7 million people watch the program each night, and 8 million watch in the course of a week.
The PBS NewsHour
is broadcast on more than 350 PBS member stations and networks, making it available to 99% of the viewing public, and audio from the program is broadcast by some NPR
radio stations. It is also rebroadcast twice daily in late night via American Public Television
's World digital subchannel
service. Broadcasts of the PBS NewsHour
are also made available worldwide via satellites
operated by various agencies such as the Voice of America
Archives of shows broadcast after February 7, 2000, are available in several streaming media
formats (including full-motion video) at the program's website. The show is available to overseas military personnel on the American Forces Network
. Audio from select segments is also released in podcast
form, available through several feeds
on the PBS NewsHour's subscriptions page with link to a FeedBurner
website (for free mp3 download) and through the iTunes Store
Only a small handful of PBS member stations and regional member networks do not air the PBS NewsHour
, a pool of member outlets mainly confined to "secondary" stations that share another market with a "primary" PBS member station. These include the NJTV
network in New Jersey (as WNET, which co-manages NJTV and WLIW
, carries the program in the New York City area (the latter airing the program live), while WHYY-TV
does so in the Philadelphia
in San Bernardino, California
in Los Angeles
carries it as San Bernardino is within the Los Angeles
market although KCET's parent company
owns KOCE-TV and is the primary member in the region), and Chicago
-area stations WYCC
and Northwest Indiana
(due to WTTW
's PBS primacy). In Boston, WGBH-TV
airs the program live each weeknight (with a simulcast online), while its secondary station WGBX
rebroadcasts the weekday editions of the PBS NewsHour
later the same evening, and the weekend editions live; a similar case is seen in New York City but in reverse, where WLIW airs both editions of the PBS NewsHour
live but is taped-delayed by an hour for the Weekday edition and a half-hour on the weekend edition on WNET. KQED
in San Francisco, airs the program each weeknight in simulcast with its radio sister, at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time
(6:00 p.m. Eastern Time
). Unusually for many years, the secondary station as part of Milwaukee PBS
, carried the program as part of an early-evening news block with the Nightly Business Report
(which was the lead-in to NewsHour
on many member stations until that program ceased production in December 2019), and half-hour international newscasts from Deutsche Welle
and BBC World News
, due to an expanded schedule of PBS Kids
and local-interest programming on WMVS; this has since been rectified with the launch of the all-hours PBS Kids subchannel network.
The PBS NewsHour
is streamed live via USTREAM
every weeknight at 6 pm ET. The PBS NewsHour Weekend
is also streamed on both platforms, every weekend live at 5 pm ET. Full episodes are available later, edited without sponsorship, on the PBS NewsHour YouTube channel. The NewsHour
streamed the inauguration of Donald Trump
PBS NewsHour editorial guidelines
On December 4, 2009, when introducing the new PBS NewsHour
format, Lehrer read a list of guidelines for what he called "MacNeil/Lehrer journalism":
- "Do nothing I cannot defend."
- "Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me."
- "Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story."
- "Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am."
- "Assume the same about all people on whom I report."
- "Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise."
- "Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything."
- "Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions."
- "No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously."
- "And finally, I am not in the entertainment business."
- Judy Woodruff – weekday anchor (Joined December 20, 1976 – June 24, 1993; joined CNN Group and returned to PBS on April 12, 2006)
- Hari Sreenivasan – correspondent, weekend anchor, substitute weekday anchor (Joined December 7, 2009; previewed on December 4, 2009 for changing the title)
- Jeffrey Brown – chief correspondent for arts, culture, and society, substitute weekday anchor (Joined December 23, 1998)
- John Yang – special correspondent, substitute weekday anchor (Joined March 1, 2016)
- Miles O'Brien – science & aviation correspondent, substitute anchor (Joined February 9, 2010)
- Lisa Desjardins – political correspondent (Joined October 29, 2014)
- William Brangham – regular interviewer and occasional substitute anchor for the weekday and weekend program (Joined August 10, 2012)
- Amna Nawaz – national correspondent and substitute anchor on Mondays-Thursdays only (Joined April 6, 2018)
- Michael Hill - substitute anchor for weekends (Joined in September 2020)
- Nick Schifrin – foreign affairs and defense correspondent and substitute anchor (Joined February 10, 2016)
- Yamiche Alcindor – White House correspondent (Joined December 31, 2015)
- Paul Solman – business, economics and occasional art correspondent, creator of Making Sen$e (Joined September 1, 1978)
- Malcolm Brabant – special correspondent, especially reporting from Europe, based in Denmark (Joined June 15, 2015)
- Alison Stewart – substitute weekend anchor (Joined September 27, 2013)
- Soledad O'Brien – substitute weekend anchor (Joined October 11, 2015)
- Megan Thompson – substitute weekend anchor (Joined January 11, 2013)
- Mike Taibbi – special correspondent for the Weekend program (Joined April 11, 2015)
- P.J. Tobia – foreign affairs editor (Joined June 19, 2013)
- Fred De Sam Lazaro – correspondent for the Agents For Change series (Joined December 10, 1985)
- Stephanie Sy – correspondent and PBS NewsHour West anchor (Joined October 14, 2019)
- Daniel Bush - senior digital political reporter who is on air during election night coverage. 
- Robert MacNeil – weekday anchor (October 20, 1975 – October 20, 1995; retired)
- Kwame Holman – correspondent (1983 – 2014; retired)
- Charlayne Hunter-Gault – weekday anchor (July 18, 1977 – June 13, 1997; retired)
- Jim Lehrer – weekday anchor and executive editor (March 15, 1976 – June 6, 2011; retired except on Fridays until his last day December 30, 2011, and his last day as an executive editor on September 26, 2014; died on January 23, 2020)
- Margaret Warner – weekday anchor (June 24, 1993 – September 7, 2017; now a White House correspondent)
- Ray Suarez – weekday anchor (October 4, 1999 – October 25, 2013; moved to Al Jazeera America)
- Gwen Ifill – Monday-Thursday anchor (formerly a Senior Correspondent) (October 4, 1999 – November 14, 2016; died from endometrial cancer)
- Terence Smith – weekday anchor (August 17, 1998 – November 23, 2005; retired)
- David Gergen (Fridays; March 30, 1981 – March 18, 1994)
- Paul Gigot (Fridays; March 25, 1994 – September 14, 2001)
- Mark Shields (Fridays; November 8, 1978 – December 18, 2020)
Criticism and reception
In 1992, radio broadcaster David Barsamian
called the NewsHour
"stenographers to power," accusing them and other news media
of having a pro-establishment bias.
has received generally positive reviews from television critics and parents of young children. Patrick Kevin Day of the Los Angeles Times
wrote, "Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are making history on PBS."
David Leonard and Micah Schwalb of The Denver Post
wrote, "One of the most trusted news programs on television."
Phil Owen of TheWrap
wrote, "The least partisan analysis."
Tim Surette of TV Guide
wrote, "The calm and credible information we need."
In 2003, UCLA
political scientist Tim Groseclose and Missouri economist Jeff Milyo evaluated various media programs based on "think tank
" citations to map liberal versus conservative media slants
and published a study alleging liberal media bias in general. Based on their research, PBS NewsHour
is the most centrist news program on television and the closest to a truly objective stance.
However, their methodology has been questioned.
In October 2006 the media criticism
group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
(FAIR) accused the PBS NewsHour
of lacking balance, diversity, and viewpoints of the general public, and for presenting corporate viewpoints. FAIR found that the PBS NewsHour'
s guest list from October 2005 to March 2006 had Republicans outnumbering Democrats 2–1, and minorities accounting for 15 percent of U.S.-based sources.
FAIR also protested in 1995 when Liberty Media purchased a majority of the program, citing Liberty's majority owner, John Malone
, for his "Machiavellian business tactics" and right-wing sentiments.
FAIR seems to be accusing us of covering the people who make decisions that affect people's lives, many of whom work in government, the military, or corporate America. That's what we do: we're a news program, and that's who makes news... I take issue with the way the FAIR report characterizes each guest, which they have obviously done very subjectively. Witness the trashing of Mark Shields and Tom Oliphant (in the full report), who are not liberal enough for FAIR's taste. When you get down to arguing about degrees of left-and-rightness, I think you undermine your own argument.
She also accused FAIR of counting sound bites as interviews, thereby skewing their numbers toward the political party holding a majority (at the time of FAIR's report, Republican Party
Partnership with NPR
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Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 01:35
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