Judy Woodruff helps keep ‘PBS NewsHour’ focused on, and in, challenging times

Veteran anchor-reporter covers the given day’s events

Judy Woodruff of ‘PBS NewsHour’ weeknights on PBS (check local listings)

Q: How challenging is it for “PBS NewsHour,” and you, to cover the American political scene these days?

A: We are a more divided country. We are polarized. Our political leaders, in many respects, are even more polarized than our country … even though we now see American citizens who are proudly displaying their differences.

If one politician we’re interviewing rejects something, then it is on us to clarify what that’s about and whether it’s something that is truly in dispute or — if there’s no dispute about it — to say, “In fact, this is what we know.” But it keeps us on our toes. We are clearly in a different era than when I started out in journalism, where there were mutually accepted facts. Each side may have its own set of facts today, and we have to work with that.

Q: How do you determine how much time “PBS NewsHour” gives to coverage of the coronavirus pandemic nightly?

A: It is tough. I have some people writing to me saying, “Too much pandemic! I’m so depressed. I can’t stand it anymore. Please talk about something else.” I have other people saying, “I can’t get enough of this. Why aren’t you doing it nonstop?”

It is a balancing act. And even though we have 55, 56 minutes every night … it sounds like a lot of time, but there’s so much to cover. Every American is affected by the pandemic, every person on the planet.

Q: Is it harder now to be objective about what you report?

A: I don’t like to use the term “objective.” When somebody asks, “Can you be objective about the news?,” I am not a machine or computer. I am a human being, a sum total of my life experiences. I have personal opinions. I try to be fair and set that aside. That’s what I have done throughout my career. That’s what all my colleagues do.

We are all about fairness, about making sure that all sides get a chance to make their case, so the American people can decide. It is as complicated as that and as simple as that, at the same time.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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