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PBS’ Newshour Looks to be “More Engaging” With Format Makeover

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The NYTimes’ Elizabeth Jensen writes about the changes coming to PBS’ long-running nightly newscast, “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.”

Mr. Lehrer, who will turn 75 next Tuesday, isn’t stepping down. But in September the program will be retitled “PBS NewsHour” and return to a two-anchor format, which it had until 1995, when Robert MacNeil left.
Linda Winslow, the executive producer of “NewsHour,” said the changes will be made for a simple reason: “What we were trying to accomplish was a more engaging program.”

Jensen reports that Lehrer will be joined by one of three co-anchors from the show’s current team: Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff or Jeffrey Brown. Winslow is quick to add, “This is not a succession plan in disguise.” Having two anchors will “shake things up a little bit,” says Lehrer. The show will also add a newsreader, much like the broadcast network morning shows.

The one-hour show will also be formatted into segments for those who can’t, or don’t watch all the way through. Winslow says, “Each piece has to be individual and watchable.” Jensen reports the show will also merge its online and broadcast news desks, and send correspondents Margaret Warner and Ray Suarez into the field more often.

“Newspapers are thinning, and television has its own crisis,” says Lehrer. “I became a fanatic about the idea that those of us who are in the business of serious journalism, we have to do more.”

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