Entertainment

Judy Woodruff is leaving PBS NewsHour in 2023

PBS NewsHour typically dissects the news with a depth unmatched by its peers at ABC, NBC, and CBS. At least for tonight, the venerable show makes its own headlines.

Judy Woodruff, the veteran news anchor who worked at NBC News and CNN before taking on her duties as anchor at PBS’s venerable “NewsHour,” is expected to leave the desk in early 2023, according to two people familiar with the matter. She is expected to lead the program until this year’s midterm elections. If the plans go through as expected, she’ll be succeeded by Amna Nawaz and Geoff Bennett, these people say — a big change at a public service institution that’s a daily part of its viewers’ news routine.

A spokesman for PBS NewsHour said the program had “no news to announce from the anchor desk.” Succession plans for the show were previously reported by Puck News. Official words, according to one of those familiar with the matter, could not come until the fall.

Woodruff has run the venerable news show once known as The MacNeil/Lehrer Report alone since 2016, when her co-host Gwen Ifill died. Woodruff and Ifill were named the show’s official co-hosts and co-editors in 2013.

Nawaz, a former ABC News correspondent, has been NewsHour’s primary backup anchor since 2018 and its chief correspondent since 2021. Bennett joined the show as chief correspondent in Washington last year and recently launched a revamped version of his weekend edition. which is now being produced by WETA, the PBS Washington affiliate, and not by WNET, the New York station under whose auspices it was launched. The move brings both shows under the same production umbrella and makes them easier to manage.

According to one of the people familiar with the program, the show has been considering the successor for a while. There was some thinking that two regular co-hosts might play better over the course of an hour-long production and create a situation where Nawaz or Bennett could go into the field or cover longer while the other stayed on to run the newscast. But producers weren’t ready to make the move until they were sure they had two potential leads who had the right background and chemistry.

Woodruff, who has had a career interviewing several presidents and heads of state and covering every presidential election since 1976, is 75, an age at which even the most popular television personalities are contemplating a change in their regular duties. Still, she’s among a small handful of TV personalities and executives who continue to do their jobs with as much enthusiasm as they did when they were young. Andrea Mitchell, also 75, not only contributes to a variety of NBC News reports as chief foreign affairs and Washington correspondent, but also holds a weekday hour at MSNBC. Lesley Stahl, 80, remains committed to CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” And Lorne Michaels, 77, is gearing up to wrap up another season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Woodruff began working for NBC for national news in 1975 and spent her early tenure there covering the US Southeast. She had also previously worked for local stations in Atlanta. That gave her the chance to cover Jimmy Carter’s gubernatorial campaign, and NBC hired her to cover Carter’s run for the White House. The move put her on a trajectory of reporting national politics through the Carter and Reagan presidencies.

In 1983, she joined PBS for her first job on NewsHour, where she served as chief correspondent in Washington and also ran the documentary program Frontline. After a decade, Woodruff took a job at CNN, where she often co-hosted with Bernard Shaw. She would leave in 2005, but after teaching and pursuing some individual projects, she returned to NewsHour as a special correspondent. Their duties gradually increased. It might take some NewsHour viewers some time to process the prospect of her off-screen next year.

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/pbs-newshour-judy-woodruff-succession-amna-nawaz-geoff-bennett-1235265946/ Judy Woodruff is leaving PBS NewsHour in 2023

Charles Jones

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