Yamiche Alcindor named moderator of ‘Washington Week’

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Scott Suchman/WETA

Alcindor

PBS NewsHour Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor will take over Friday as permanent host and moderator of Washington Week, the public affairs series produced by WETA in Washington, D.C.

Alcindor succeeds Robert Costa, who left the series in January to co-write a book with investigative journalist Bob Woodward.

Alcindor, who has covered the White House for PBS NewsHour during the Biden and Trump administrations, was one of 10 guest moderators during the search for Costa’s successor. She will continue reporting for NewsHour, according to station officials, and will periodically file online-only reports for Washington Week.

In an interview, Alcindor said she was “honored and excited” to continue following in the footsteps of her mentor Gwen Ifill, who died of cancer in 2016 and was a longtime host of Washington Week. She also reported for PBS NewsHour and in 2013 became co-host and co-managing editor with Judy Woodruff.

“From a personal and professional standpoint, I’m sort of floored, because I know how much this show meant to Gwen,” Alcindor said. “I’m really feeling her sense of resilience, her tenacity, her brilliance as I think about this next phase of my career.” Alcindor has said that Ifill inspired her to embrace her perspectives as a Black journalist.

Sharon Percy Rockefeller, CEO of WETA, said Alcindor’s “go-getter spirit” stands out. “Because she’s so focused, because she’s fearless, she seems like the right person for this moment. And she wants the job very, very much,” Rockefeller said, adding, “Gwen is a huge influence on Yamiche, but she’s going to be very much her own person.”

Washington Week, which premiered in 1967 as Washington Week in Review, was one of the first programs to air on PBS when it launched in 1970. Over its history, the series has had eight moderators, including John Davenport, Robert MacNeil and Paul Duke.

Alcindor, the ninth, previously worked for USA Today, where she covered protests and subsequent trials after the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. She also covered politics for the New York Times before joining NewsHour in 2018. Alcindor appears as a contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

Jeff Bieber, EP of Washington Week, said Alcindor will leverage her reporting expertise as moderator. “One thing I learned working with Bob Costa, especially during the Trump administration, was the value of having someone in the trenches covering both the president and Congress every day,” Bieber said.

Bieber, who is also VP of content development and production for WETA, said the program’s viewership grew with Costa as moderator, especially during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 election. Bieber said Washington Week can continue finding new audiences with its “extra” segments posted online and engagement on Instagram, and by tapping into Alcindor’s following on social media, particularly Twitter.

Alcindor said she plans to invite more panelists who have not appeared on the program. 

“I’m really excited to have both people who are friends of the show, who’ve been on the show many times, as well as new reporters, including young reporters, reporters of color,” she said. “I see this as an opportunity to keep both the traditions of the show but also rethink all the different ways we do things and make it speak to a new generation of people who may not be familiar with Washington Week.”

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