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Jim Lehrer, longtime PBS NewsHour anchor and co-founder, dies at 85

  • Lehrer, who died at his home in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, was the longtime host of what is currently the PBS NewsHour, giving public television viewers a substantive alternative to network evening news programs with in-depth reporting, interviews and analysis of world and national affairs. Lehrer and former NBC News correspondent Robert MacNeil's Emmy-winning coverage of the Watergate hearings led to the creation in 1975 of The Robert MacNeil Report, which was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1976. In 1983, the nightly program expanded to one hour with the name The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. MacNeil retired in 1995, and the show was renamed The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. PBS changed the name to PBS NewsHour in 2009, two years before Lehrer retired. Lehrer also moderated a number of presidential debates, the last one being the first 2012 debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. "For Jim, being a journalist was never a self-centered endeavor. He always told those who worked with him: 'It’s not about us,'" PBS said in a statement. "Night after night, Jim led by example that being yourself — journalist, writer, family man, citizen — can be a high calling. For 36 years, Jim began the nightly newscast with a simple phrase: 'Good Evening, I’m Jim Lehrer.' As an anchor of several iterations of the NewsHour, Jim reported the news with a clear sense of purpose and integrity, even as the world of media changed around him. Jim and his journalism partner Robert MacNeil’s approach to reporting the news became known as 'MacNeil-Lehrer style of journalism.' Their approach helped lay the foundation for modern public media reporting." Current PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff said in a statement: "I'm heartbroken at the loss of someone who was central to my professional life, a mentor to me and someone whose friendship I’ve cherished for decades. I’ve looked up to him as the standard for fair, probing and thoughtful journalism and I know countless others who feel the same way.”

    TOPICS: PBS Newshour, PBS, Jim Lehrer, Judy Woodruff, Robert MacNeil, Obits