Haynes Johnson, original Washington Week panel member, dies at 81

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Johnson (Photo: PBS NewsHour)

Johnson (Photo: PBS NewsHour)

Haynes Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was an original panel member on pubTV’s Washington Week in Review, died May 24 in Bethesda from a heart attack. He was 81.

Johnson was an established journalist in Washington, D.C., in 1967 when WETA launched the public-affairs panel discussion program. He had won a Pulitzer the year before for reporting on civil-rights struggles in Selma, Ala., for the Washington Evening Star. He stayed with the program, later renamed Washington Week, through the mid-1990s.

Johnson remained a staple of PBS’s Washington coverage for more than four decades, making regular appearances on the PBS NewsHour and Washington Week to discuss national and global affairs. He continued his relationship with PBS after retiring from print journalism in 1994, by which point he had worked for the Washington Post, the New York Sun, and the Wilmington News-Journal in Delaware.

Johnson also authored 11 books and held the Knight chair of public affairs journalism at the University of Maryland at the time of his death.

He was a mentor to current Washington Week host Gwen Ifill, who shared remembrances of her time working with him in a May 30 YouTube video for PBS.

He is survived by his second wife, D.C. Court of Appeals judge Kathryn Oberly; siblings Michael, Paul and Sarah Johnson; children Stephen, David M., Katherine Autin, Sarah Johnson and Elizabeth Koeller; stepson Michael Goelzer; and six grandchildren.

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