New "Washington Week in Review" anchor Gwen Ifill says she has no immediate changes in store for viewers.
"For the short run, I think it's going to be a big enough change just to have me in the chair," she said.
Ifill, the first female and first person of color to anchor "WWR," took over that job on Oct. 1, intending to maintain the show's cordial, thoughtful approach.
But in February, when WETA programming director Dalton Delan ousted anchor Ken Bode, Delan said he wanted more "attitude and argument," more strong political views, surprise guests and even high school journalists.
"One of the things we came to an accommodation about is the show's mission: to provide sober conversation, not punditry," said Ifill. "There's room for that in Washington. We have beat reporters who actually cover the news rather than columnists and opinion writers. The reaction from viewers told us to stick with what we had. I wouldn't have taken this job if I thought I would have to fight that battle again."
Ifill, 44, also is senior correspondent and back-up anchor for "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," a role she began on Oct. 4. It was the combination that sold her, she said: "The grabber was `The NewsHour.' "
A reporter for The Washington Post, the New York Times and NBC News, Ifill got her start on television as a panelist on "WWR" in 1992, when Paul Duke was host. Both Duke and Lehrer are former newspapermen. "All my best friends in television came from print," she said. "It gives you a grounding."
Ifill is sanguine about her career path: "I left two great newspapers to go to television," she said. "I think everything happens the way it's supposed to."
In late October, "WWR" will be available in a streaming video version during the week after the live telecast at www.pbs.org/weta/wwir.