Award-winning NewsHour Producer Liz Callan Dies in Washington, D.C. at 57

The NewsHour is sad to announce the death of our dear friend and beloved colleague, Elizabeth Anne Callan of Washington, DC. Liz, 57, was an award-winning producer for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for more the twenty years. She died on Friday, August 17, at the Washington Hospital Center from injuries suffered in a fire. Prior to her joining The NewsHour in 1987, Liz was a producer and writer for NBC News in New York for eleven years.

Liz grew up in Garden City and Westhampton Beach, New York, and graduated from the Noroton School in 1967 and Briarcliff College in 1971. She is survived by her daughter Gabriella of Washington, DC, her brothers Ned and John of New York – and her golden lab, Louise. Liz was preceded in death by her parents Edward Francis Callan and June Hickey Callan. Mr. Callan was a managing partner of the New York City law firm of Putney, Thwombley, Hall and Herson.

As a producer for The NewsHour, Liz was fearless, caring and passionate, with a wicked sense of humor. For Liz, the story was what mattered. If it was compelling and interesting and contributed something to the public’s awareness of an issue or an event, that was enough for her. Liz was particularly good in the edit room, always aware of the need of having the visuals to drive her stories.

Most recently, Liz produced pieces for The NewHour’s health and health policy unit, and over the past several years won awards for reports on such topics as battling Alzheimer’s disease, childhood cancer, and a wide range of pieces on the physical and emotional toll taken on the members of the U.S. military wounded in Iraq.

In the late 1980s Liz produced a series of NewsHour reports from El Salvador, Honduras, Chile and Nicaragua. Perhaps the most memorable – and dangerous – of those pieces was a trip with the contras into Nicaragua, beginning from a secret US base on Honduras. She and her colleagues were taken by helicopter from the base to interview one of the contra commanders and spend the better part of a day with a small contra guerrilla unit inside Nicaragua. This was at the height of the U.S. backed contra war against the Sandinista Government and was certainly a dangerous assignment, yet, as always, Liz was enthusiastic, good humored on the lookout for a great story.

Liz also worked on an important piece from Chile in 1989 about the referendum on General Pinochet’s government and whether Chileans wanted to return to civilian rule. The footage was terrific and beautifully edited. Liz and her colleagues got the story right, predicting that Pinochet would lose the referendum, which he did.

Liz was a trooper and a friend. We will miss her.