PBS NewsHour: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see News Hour.
The PBS NewsHour[1]
The logo of the relaunch of PBS NewsHour from December 7, 2009
Format News television program
Created by Robert MacNeil
Jim Lehrer
Presented by Jim Lehrer and
Elizabeth Farnsworth
Gwen Ifill
Ray Suarez
Margaret Warner
Judy Woodruff
Hari Sreenivasan
Country of origin  United States
Running time 60 minutes per episode
Production company(s) MacNeil/Lehrer Productions
Original channel PBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run October 20, 1975 – Present
External links
Official website

PBS NewsHour is an evening television news program broadcast weeknights on PBS in the United States. The show is produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, a company co-owned by current anchor Jim Lehrer, former anchor Robert MacNeil, and Liberty Media, which owns a 65% stake in the company.

Unlike most other evening newscasts in the country, each edition of the PBS NewsHour is one hour long. The program also runs longer segments than most other news outlets in the U.S. The PBS NewsHour is known for its in-depth coverage of the subjects involved, and avoids the use of sound bytes, instead playing back extended portions of news conferences and holding interviews that last several minutes.



Name changes

From 1995 until December 4, 2009, the program was anchored by Lehrer and known as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. From 1983 until former co-anchor Robert MacNeil's retirement in 1995, it was called The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. From mid-1975 through 1983, the show was called The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and for the first months of 1975, it was known as The Robert MacNeil Report.


MacNeil and Lehrer first teamed up to cover the United States Senate Watergate hearings for PBS in 1973, which led to an Emmy Award. This recognition led to the 1975 creation of The Robert MacNeil Report, a half-hour local news program for WNET, each episode of which covered a single issue in-depth. A few months later, the program was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and began to be broadcast nationwide on PBS stations. The program changed formats and extended to an hour in length on September 5, 1983, becoming known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour until MacNeil left the program.

The final The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer logo from May 17, 2006, to December 4, 2009.

On May 17, 2006, the program underwent its first major change in presentation in years, adopting new broadcast graphics and a new version of the show's trademark theme song. On December 17, 2007, the NewsHour became the second nightly broadcast network newscast to broadcast in 1080i high definition behind NBC Nightly News, which went HD in March 2007. The difference between this broadcast and Nightly News is that the NewsHour is shown in a letterbox format for those with standard definition television sets. The switch came with the current graphics updated to HD and a new set.

Relaunch to PBS NewsHour

On May 11, 2009, it was reported that "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" would receive a makeover on December 7, 2009[2] and be renamed "The PBS NewsHour".[3] In addition to an increased integration between the NewsHour website and nightly broadcast, the updated production would feature co-anchors, as had been the practice until Robert MacNeil's 1995 departure from the program.[4]

Production and ratings

Behind the scenes at The Newshour, during a Gen. Peter Pace interview.

The NewsHour is notable for being run on public television; there are no interruptions for advertisements (though there are "corporate-image" advertisements at the beginning and end of the show and interruptions to call for pledges during public television pledge drives).

The program has a more deliberate pace than the news broadcasts of the commercial networks it competes against. At the start of the program, a news summary that lasts a few minutes is given, briefly explaining many of the headlines around the world. International stories often include excerpts of reports filed by Independent Television News correspondents. This is typically followed by three or four longer news segments running 10–15 minutes. These segments explore a few of the headline events in-depth. The segments include discussions with experts, newsmakers, and/or commentators. The program often wraps up with a reflective essay, but on Fridays it ends with a discussion between two regular columnists. As of 2004, the usual participants are Mark Shields and David Brooks. Analysts who fill in when either Shields or Brooks is absent have included David Gergen, Thomas Oliphant, Rich Lowry, William Kristol, Ramesh Ponnuru, Ruth Marcus, and E. J. Dionne.

The program's senior correspondents are Gwen Ifill, Ray Suarez, Margaret Warner, Jeffrey Brown, and Judy Woodruff. Essayists include Jim Fisher, Clarence Page, Anne Taylor Fleming, Richard Rodriguez, and Roger Rosenblatt. Correspondents include Susan Dentzer, Tom Bearden, Kwame Holman, Fred de Sam Lazaro, Terence Smith, Paul Solman, Betty Ann Bowser, and others.

NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer and senior correspondent Gwen Ifill are frequent moderators of U.S. political debates. By November 2008, Lehrer had moderated more than ten debates between major U.S. presidential candidates.[5] In 2008, Ifill moderated a debate between U.S. vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin; in 2004, Ifill moderated a debate between candidates Dick Cheney and John Edwards.[6]

After the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, The NewsHour began what it calls its "Honor Roll", a short segment displaying in silence the picture, name, rank, and hometown of US military personnel killed in Iraq. On January 4, 2006, The NewsHour added military personnel killed in Afghanistan to the segment.

According to Nielsen ratings at the program's website, 2.7 million people watch the program each night, and 8 million individuals watch in the course of a week. The NewsHour is broadcast on more than 300 PBS stations, reaching 99% of the viewing public, and audio is broadcast by some National Public Radio stations. Broadcasts are also made available worldwide via satellites operated by various agencies. In Australia, the program appears on free-to-air station SBS from Tuesday to Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Archives of shows broadcast after February 7, 2000 are available in several streaming media formats (including full-motion video) at the program's website. The show is available to overseas military personnel on the American Forces Network. Audio from select segments are also released in podcast form, available through several feeds on PBS's subscriptions page and through the iTunes Store. The program originates in Washington, D.C., with additional facilities in San Francisco, California and Denver, Colorado, and is a collaboration between PBS television stations WNET, WETA-TV, and KQED.

NewsHour editorial guidelines

On December 4, 2009, when introducing the new PBS Newshour format, Jim Lehrer read out a list of guidelines in what he referred to as "MacNeil / Lehrer journalism."[7] They are as follows:

  • Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  • Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
  • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
  • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.
  • No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • And finally, I am not in the entertainment business.


Critics have accused the American news media—including the NewsHour—of having a pro-establishment bias.

In the documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, Noam Chomsky criticizes the short span of time that he was allotted when interviewed on the NewsHour in September of 1990. Chomsky complains that a short format allows only the repetition of conventional wisdom, not the exploration of ideas.[8] In 1992, radio broadcaster David Barsamian called the NewsHour "stenographers to power."[9]

FAIR study

In October 2006, the progressive media criticism group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) accused The NewsHour of lacking balance, diversity, and viewpoints of the general public, in favor of Republican Party and corporate viewpoints.[10] FAIR studied the NewsHour's guest list for 6 months, from October 2005 to March 2006. Republicans outnumbered Democrats 2:1 (66% to 33%), and people of color made up only 15% of U.S.-based sources. Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales accounted for 30% of Latino sources, while former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accounted for 13% of African-American sources. Additionally, Hurricane Katrina victims made up 46% of all African-American sources. Public interest groups made up 4% of sources. Current and former government and military officials made up 50% of sources. Regarding the Iraq War, sources that supported an extended occupation outnumbered pro-withdrawal sources 5:1, and this ratio continued even after polls favored a withdrawal from Iraq. During this time, not a single peace activist appeared.[10] PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler agreed with FAIR's report. These are "perilous times," wrote Getler in his Ombudsman column. "As a viewer and journalist, I find the program occasionally frustrating; sometimes too polite, too balanced when issues are not really balanced, and too many political and emotion-laden statements pass without factual challenges from the interviewer."[11] FAIR also protested in 1995 when Liberty Media purchased a majority of the program, citing Liberty's majority owner, John Malone, for his "Machiavellian business tactics" and right-wing sentiments.[12]


For most of the run, funding has been provided by AT&T, SBC Communications (prior to its takeover of AT&T), Archer Daniels Midland, PepsiCo, New York Life, Smith Barney (and its former mid-to-late '90's moniker "Salomon Smith Barney", when merging with Salomon Brothers), Travelers Group, Pfizer, CIT Group, Chevron, Grant Thornton LLP, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Pacific Life, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Park Foundation, BP, Toyota, Wachovia/Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Intel, Monsanto, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by contributions to PBS stations from Viewers Like You.

International broadcasts


External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address