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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at The Newshour

Monday, June 01, 2009
Kathleen McCleery, deputy executive producer of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, came to campus on April 15 to give Marymount’s ninth annual Marya McLaughlin Lecture in Media Communications. Her presentation, “A Day in the Life of The Newshour,” took the audience on a rollercoaster ride of high-pressure journalistic decisions made with the clock ticking steadily toward airtime.

Ms. McCleery spoke about preparations for the April 2, 2009, show, anchored by Judy Woodruff. She described it as a “typical” production day – crammed with breaking national and international news, meetings, interviews, traffic jams, technical malfunctions, quick recoveries, and tough decisions.

After her presentation, Ms. McCleery took questions from the audience. She acknowledged that the way people receive news is changing, with audiences today wanting updates and information in times, places, and formats most convenient for them. As a result, she said, “the online NewsHour is growing.” But she defended the continued value of the daily broadcast, asserting, “Our mission is to provide analysis, perspective, and context. And that is more critical today than ever.”

Ms. McCleery concluded her presentation by encouraging interested students to pursue careers in journalism. She said, “If you’re curious, if you’re interested in what’s happening in the world, this is the place to be!”

The McLaughlin Lecture Series was established in 2000 in honor of Marya McLaughlin, a well-known CBS News radio and television correspondent who taught mathematics at Marymount in the 1950s. The University’s past McLaughlin lecturers include distinguished journalists Bob Schieffer, Helen Thomas, and Roger Mudd – who joined the Marymount audience for Ms. McCleery’s presentation.