Jim Lehrer Steps Down as Anchor of 'PBS NewsHour'

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He will still appear on many Fridays and stay involved in the editorial direction of the PBS news show.

NEW YORK - Jim Lehrer said Thursday that he would leave his regular anchor duties on the PBS NewsHour, effective June 6.

He will still appear on many Friday evenings to moderate the weekly analysis of Shields and Brooks with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Lehrer said he will also remain involved in the editorial direction of the PBS news show and the program's producer, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.

"I have been laboring in the glories of daily journalism for 52 years...36 of them here at the NewsHour and its earlier incarnations," he said Thursday. "There comes a time to step aside from the daily process, and that time has arrived."

In Dec. 2009, the show changed its name from The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to the PBS NewsHour in a first step towards the news anchor's eventual departure. The move established a multi-anchor team that included Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Jeffrey Brown, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner. That team will continue hosting the broadcast on a rotating basis, PBS said.
The PBS show began in 1975 as The Robert MacNeil Report and went through several iterations to its current form.

Said MacNeil: "It is the most constructive and graceful exit strategy I have ever seen for someone holding a coveted and senior position in today's media. It guarantees a continued place in today's bewildering media spectrum for a program that will stay devoted to serious journalism."

Linda Winslow, executive producer of the PBS NewsHour, said: "I don't know another iconic television anchorperson who would be willing to take his name off the program he helped create - while remaining on the air. Jim's point in doing that was, "We're all on the same team." He wanted to create an enterprise that could be the bedrock for public broadcasting's journalistic future - and I think he's done that."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai