2020 Carey McWilliams Award Presented to Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill (posthumously)

The Carey McWilliams Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor major journalistic contributions to society’s understanding of politics.

Citation from the Award Committee:

In 2013, Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, an award-winning Black journalist who passed away in 2016 shortly after the election, were the first women to co-anchor a network broadcast.  According to Katie Rogers writing in the New York Times, the PBS program is distinctive for a number of reasons beyond being the first to be co-anchored by two talented women:

“Aside from its slower-paced broadcast, “NewsHour” is distinct for another reason: its newsroom is majority female.  Fifty-nine journalists are women, and 55 are men.  The anchor and the executive producer are women.  Many of the program’s regular contributors – Marcia Coyle, Tamara Keith and Amy Walter among them – are women.  Several “NewsHour” journalists say this has created a more diverse report.”

Gwen Ifill was an award-winning national political journalist who co-hosted and managed the PBS News Hour from 2013 until illness prevented her from continuing.  In commenting on her extraordinary life and accomplishments in a PBS NewsHour report, President Obama praised her for her work as a journalist and as a role model and said that she has done her country a great service.

After graduating from Simmons University, Ifill’s early career in the press included working with the Washington Post and later the New York Times, where she covered the White House.  She moved to NBC in 1994, and in 1999 she became the first Black woman to host a national talk show as moderator of the PBS program “Washington Week in Review.”  She moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice-presidential debates.  Ifill’s book, The Breakthrough:  Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, was published on January 20, 2009, the day President Obama was inaugurated.  She has received numerous awards for her work in journalism and was also the recipient of more than 20 honorary doctorates.  This year, she was also honored on a U.S. postage stamp.

Judy Woodruff is the current anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour.  Working as a broadcast journalist since her graduation from Duke University in 1968, where she was a political science major, Woodruff has reported on every U.S. presidential election since 1976.  After working in local television news in Atlanta, Woodruff reported on Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign for NBC in 1976.  She became White House correspondent for NBC shortly after President Carter’s inauguration and moved to Washington, D.C.  Her book, This is Judy Woodruff at the White House, published in 1983, describes her work as a reporter.  She moved to PBS in 1983 where she reported on national politics and hosted “Frontline with Judy Woodruff,” and moderated the 1988 vice-presidential debate.  In 1993, Woodruff moved to CNN where she reported on national and international politics and served as co-anchor for special coverage on events such as 9/11, the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War.

After leaving CNN in 2005, and semesters conducting research at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, and teaching at Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, she hosted a monthly news program on Bloomberg Television called  “Conversations with Judy Woodruff.”  Woodruff returned to PBS in 2006 to work on what was then called the “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” as a senior correspondent and was a rotating anchor of the program until 2013, when she became co-anchor of the NewsHour with Gwen Ifill.  Woodruff is the recipient of numerous awards, including honorary degrees from Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Professor Holli A. Semetko (chair), Emory University; Markus Prior, Princeton University; and Dr. Tracy Sulkin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.