Last month, when Yamiche Alcindor learned that she would be the next moderator of PBS’s current affairs show “Washington Week,” she immediately felt the thrill of the moment.
“I cried instantly,” recalls Mrs. Alcindor, “thinking of Gwen.”
“Washington Week,” a calm dread in the garish battlefield of political television, is closely associated with its longtime moderator Gwen Ifill, the pioneering journalist who broke barriers as a black woman in the press. Washington.
Prior to her death in 2016, Ms. Ifill also became a mentor to Ms. Alcindor, the White House correspondent for “PBS NewsHour”. Beginning with Friday’s episode, Ms Alcindor, 34, will take Ms Ifill’s former chair as head of “Washington Week.” She succeeds Robert Costa, a Washington Post reporter who took over in 2017 and left the series this year.
PBS and WETA-TV, the Washington branch that produces the program, announced Ms. Alcindor’s appointment on Tuesday.
“I know how much ‘Washington Week’ meant to Gwen and how much it marked the legacy of the show,” Ms. Alcindor, who is Haitian-American, said in an interview. “I also feel this incredible responsibility to think deeply about the possibility of making this a show that people want to watch, that people will feel is living up to its great legacy.”
Ms. Alcindor will continue to cover President Biden for “NewsHour,” while also remaining a contributor to NBC News and MSNBC. Previously, she was a reporter for the New York Times and USA Today.
She said she had been a “Washington Week” viewer since college, and wanted to broaden the reach of a sometimes arcane DC show. She also plans to maintain the civil tone – “a sense of respect and respectability,” as she put it – which has been the show’s signature since its debut in 1967.
“There can be this feeling, when you work and live in Washington, that it all depends on what’s going on in DC,” Ms. Alcindor said. “Much of what has guided my journalism is how are vulnerable populations affected by these policies? It will be my guiding light. “
As a White House reporter, Ms Alcindor gained notoriety as a frequent target of former President Donald J. Trump’s wrath at press conferences. At an opportunity in 2018Mr. Trump called his question “racist” after asking whether his policies had emboldened white nationalists. “As a black woman, this was not the first time someone had targeted me or said something about me that I knew was wrong,” recalls Ms. Alcindor.
When Ms Alcindor was first booked as a guest on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’, she said she called Ms Ifill ‘in panic’.
She recalled Ms Ifill’s advice: “She basically said to me, ‘You are a journalist who knows as much as the people around this table. You have earned it and you are ready for it. “”