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Gwen’s Take: Time flies as does the news

One of the best features of my career is that I have gotten to meet and work with some of the most stellar people in the business. From Tim Russert and Jim Lehrer to Bryant Gumbel, Andrea Mitchell and Judy Woodruff, I have learned from the leading lights.

But almost nothing has been as gratifying as the 15 years I have spent at Washington Week getting to pick the brains and cultivate the careers of journalists who make journalism matter every single day.

TIME Magazine’s Michael Duffy and The New York Times’ Peter Baker have evolved into standout historians of the contemporary presidency. No one explains a complicated legal decision more engagingly than NBC News’ Pete Williams, Reuters’ Joan Biskupic and The National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle.

I am never more engaged in politics than when I am hashing it out with Amy Walter of Cook Political Report or Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post. And Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers consistently humanize the often sterile world of foreign policy and military affairs.

This is a dangerous path I tread. For every reporter I name, there are two or three others who shape my understanding of current events every single day.

Lucky me, I get to invite them into my public policy sandbox every Friday night.

A cadre of smart, top-notch journalists are invited to to come play in Gwen Ifill's "sandbox" every Friday night.

A cadre of smart, top-notch journalists are invited to to come play in Gwen Ifill’s “sandbox” every Friday night.

Michael Duffy and I have covered Washington and campaigns together for more than three decades now. I agree with him when he says here that we can divide the way the world has changed between pre-9/11 and post-9/11.

So many of our fears and hopes and paranoia can be traced to where we were on the day of the bloodiest terror attack ever to occur on American soil. Our notions of leadership, and what we require of our leaders, shifted that day, as well as our tolerance for conflict.

To get to sit in the front row as a witness to such profound shifts, and to be able to have access to the newsmakers who can provide answers to complicated questions is a privilege.

That’s why it’s kind of shocking to see that 15 years have passed since I came to public broadcasting at Washington Week and the PBS NewsHour. It’s been a decade and a half of having the luxury of time, thought, and actually being able to read the books written by the authors I get to interview — from Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, to Henry Louis Gates Jr., Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton.

It’s also been an opportunity to broaden my understanding of culture, science and how to pronounce intricate foreign names and places.

But I couldn’t do any of it if you weren’t watching, listening and holding my feet to the fire. I may not always have the time to respond, but I read your mail, your tweets — and the occasional birthday cards — and take them to heart.

This is an immensely collaborative business. It’s important to remember that every time I greet you with a “good evening” and sign off with a “good night,” there are dozens of people you never see who get us on and off the air or get us posted online.

So Happy Anniversary to me, to them — and to you too. Here’s to at least another 15.

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