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Judy Woodruff, Gwen Ifill of ‘PBS NewsHour’ to receive annual Cronkite award

Betsy Woodruff, left, and the late Gwen Ifill. (Photo: The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication)

PHOENIX — Judy Woodruff and the late Gwen Ifill, award-winning co-anchors and managing editors of “PBS NewsHour,” will be awarded the 2017 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, the school announced Monday.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will honor Woodruff with the 34th annual award at a ceremony on Oct. 19 at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix Hotel. Woodruff will also accept the award on Ifill’s behalf, who died from cancer in November 2016.

Woodruff and Ifill served as co-anchors and managing editors of “PBS NewsHour” since 2013 and Woodruff still holds that position today.

The Cronkite School said the duo’s positions as co-anchors “marked a milestone in journalism” because “no national news organization had ever paired two female journalists as co-anchors for an evening news broadcast.”

“The tandem built upon the NewsHour’s four-decade reputation for providing reliable reporting, analysis and live studio interviews with world leaders and newsmakers,” the school said in a press release.

Christopher Callahan, the dean of the Cronkite School, referred to Woodruff and Ifill as “trailblazers in broadcast journalism who embody the legacy of Walter Cronkite.”

Woodruff called the award an “incredible honor” and touted the Cronkite School’s reputation for setting “new standards for educating the next generation of journalists, and generations to follow.”

“I’m humbled to receive this award in [Cronkite’s] name, along with my dear friend and longtime colleague, the late Gwen Ifill, who has left a legacy of excellence and dedication that touched all who knew her,” Woodruff said in the release.

In addition to her position with “PBS NewsHour,” Woodruff has served as an anchor and senior correspondent for CNN, a White House correspondent for NBC News, a chief Washington correspondent for PBS, anchored a PBS’ weekly documentary series and was the principal reporter for the PBS documentary “Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime” in 2011.

Ifill also served as a moderator and managing editor for “Washington Week” at PBS and moderated the vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008. She was also the chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News, a White House correspondent for The New York Times, and a local and national political reporter for The Washington Post.

This won’t be the journalists’ first encounter with the school, however: Woodruff was the keynote speaker at Cronkite’s 2015 convocation ceremony and Ifill led a diversity lecture in 2013. In September 2016, Ifill was also part of a celebration in Washington, D.C. to honor the life and legacy of Walter Cronkite.

The annual Cronkite award has been given to “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley, broadcast journalist Robin Roberts and newspaper journalist Ben Bradlee, among others. It was named in 1984 for Cronkite and was awarded by the journalist personally until his death in 2009.

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