She was gracious on the air, professional in her work, and standard-setting for everyone in her field. Gwen Ifill, who died of cancer at 61, was one of the few print reporters (she wrote for the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times) who made the transition to broadcast journalism on NBC and then PBS with ease. She was always sharp and to the point in her questioning of Washington politicians and her insight on whatever story she reported, be it public affairs or popular music. You will hear and have heard a lot about how she inspired other black women in journalism, but she inspired me as a reporter too. Because she told everyone what happened and what it meant without any bias. Obviously, I'm not talking about what I write here, but when I have more reporter's hat on, I try to follow Ifill's example.
I always found her work solid and substantial, and I remember defending her in Internet chat rooms and message boards from folks who found her reporting less than stellar, though on one occasion I did write her to critique a discussion with members of Congress and failing to return to an issue after her attempt to ask about it was interrupted by her guests. I never got a reply, but I can only assume that she learned from whatever criticism she did receive to do her best, and that is pretty much anyone who is a reporter can do. And overall, Gwen Ifill's best was pretty good. We're all going to miss her . . . especially in this brave and scary new era. :-(