Longtime PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer has died at the age of 85. He was the co-founder of the network's news show with Robert MacNeil. He shared the news of the day with Americans for 36 years. Why is he so important? The MacNeil-Lehrer approach to reporting the news helped set the standard for modern public media reporting.
One of the watershed moments of his career came during the Watergate hearings in 1973 when he and his partner presented nightly analysis of the day's testimony in an age before 24-hour news networks. Lehrer retired from his role as full-time anchor in 2011.
Lehrer was born in Kansas in 1934 and attended college in Texas. He remained in Dallas to start his journalism career as a reporter for the Morning News and the Times-Herald. He covered the assassination of President Kennedy and its aftermath.
He was in the police station when Lee Harvey Oswald was brought in. He made the switch to broadcast journalism at the public station in Dallas. That's where he was during the Watergate hearings.
More than 70-thousand Americans wrote letters praising the team for their coverage. In 1975 MacNeil and Lehrer launched the NewsHour. Lehrer is credited with never backing down from asking tough questions, but was always recognized as being fair. Even Americans who did not watch PBS are familiar with Lehrer because he moderated 12 presidential debates, more than anyone else.
Source: New York Times