PBS NewsHour History 

What is now PBS NewsHour began with public television’s unprecedented, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. Senate Watergate hearings in 1973 by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer. In 1975, The Robert MacNeil Report, a week nightly half-hour news program that provided in-depth coverage of a different single issue each evening, debuted locally on Thirteen/WNET in New York, with Lehrer as Washington correspondent, reporting from WETA Washington, D.C. Within months, the program was re-titled The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and was distributed nationally by PBS. In 1983, the program was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and became the nation’s first and only hour-long nightly broadcast of national news, proving there existed both a need and a substantial audience for serious, long-form journalism.

With MacNeil’s departure in 1995, the program debuted as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, produced from WETA’s studios in Arlington, Va. In December 2009, Lehrer transitioned the program from The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to PBS NewsHour, adding a rotating anchor format and integrating the on-air and online news operations.

Lehrer ultimately left the anchor desk in 2011 and in 2013, then rotating anchors, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, were named co-anchors and managing editors of PBS NewsHour. Ifill and Woodruff’s appointment marked the first time a U.S. network broadcast had a female co-anchor team. Also in 2013, PBS NewsHour expanded to the weekend with PBS NewsHour Weekend, then-produced in collaboration with WNET in New York. After Ifill’s untimely death in November 2016, Woodruff solo anchored the NewsHour until December 2022. In late 2022, chief correspondents Amna Nawaz and Geoff Bennett were named the nightly news broadcast’s co-anchors, effective January 2023.

In 2019, NewsHour launched its West bureau at ASU, which produces broadcast updates for later airings when news warrants. In addition to launching a digital anchor desk in 2021, NewsHour also launched its Communities Initiative and roster of journalists in the Dearborn/Detroit region, Fresno, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and St. Louis.

In 2022, PBS NewsHour assumed production oversight of PBS NewsHour Weekend, since renamed PBS News Weekend, as well as WETA’s Washington Week.

PBS NewsHour Facts

Schedule: PBS NewsHour is fed live by satellite from 6 to 7 p.m. (ET) each weeknight, with repeat feeds updated when news warrants, from 7 to 8 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m. (ET). Public television stations decide independently on PBS NewsHour’s time slot in their markets. Many stations repeat the program late at night or early in the morning.

Production: PBS NewsHour and PBS News Weekend are productions of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C.

Broadcast Carriage: PBS NewsHour is broadcast by more than 300 PBS stations, reaching 98 percent of the nation’s television households, according to Nielsen.

Website: PBS NewsHour’s website has won high marks for original reporting, interactive forums and substantive news coverage on the Internet. The site in 2020 averaged more than 7.5 million unique visitors a month. In addition, PBS NewsHour website features Extra, an interactive current events site for students and teachers that includes more than 150 lesson plans for bringing current events into the classroom.

Additional Program Reach: PBS NewsHour is available online and via podcast. In many markets, public radio stations simultaneously broadcast the audio portion of PBS NewsHour on AM and FM radio on NPR affiliates. PBS NewsHour airs virtually coast to coast in Australia, Canada and Japan, and on Voice of America worldwide.

PBS NewsHour is close-captioned for the hearing-impaired.