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Remembering NewsHour special correspondent Elizabeth Brackett

Elizabeth Brackett, an award-winning special correspondent for the NewsHour for more than 25 years, has died at the age of 76. Across her 40 years in journalism, her reports stood out in the way she captured the voices of those affected and for her drive to always push for more. Judy Woodruff looks back at her life and career.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Finally tonight, remembering the work and life of a longtime correspondent for "NewsHour."

  • Elizabeth Brackett:

    And the question people are now asking is, what will the long-term impact on their community be?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Elizabeth Brackett once said she wouldn't take no for an answer.

    And it was a trait that came to define much of her 40-year career in journalism, including more than 25 years as a special correspondent based in the Midwest for the "NewsHour."

  • Elizabeth Brackett:

    These three acres of corn are all that Boyer has left of the 800 acres he planted this year. He's completely wiped out.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Whether she was covering the impact of devastating floods in Iowa, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, or families fleeing after Hurricane Katrina, Elizabeth's reports stood out in the way she captured the voices of those affected.

  • Woman:

    We have been walking since yesterday. We have had people that have been walking for three days. Everybody's out on the bridge. Nobody gave us nothing. We haven't eaten in three days.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    She was competitive.

    And as one of her producers at the "NewsHour," Merrill Schwerin, put it, "She always pushed for more, more interviews, more phone calls, more perspective."

    Elizabeth wanted to be at the front of a breaking story, as was the case when she covered the heated battles over an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas.

  • Elizabeth Brackett:

    Three hours after patients had gotten into the clinic, those who had not been arrested from Operation Rescue were still on the street.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Elizabeth was a true Chicagoan at heart. She worked for several TV stations, most notably with our colleagues at WTTW for two decades, where she was a correspondent and host for "Chicago Tonight."

    She often focused on education and the deadly toll of gun violence. But she loved politics as well, and Illinois was a great place to focus on that.

    She reported extensively on the downfall of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. And she wrote a book about it.

  • Elizabeth Brackett:

    The calls for impeachment are growing. There is now a bill introduced into the Illinois legislature calling for impeachment, in the House.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    She received numerous awards during her career, including national and regional Emmys, as well as a Peabody Award.

    She retired, so to speak, in 2014, but still was reporting 10 stories a year for WTTW.

  • Elizabeth Brackett:

    Well, after all that worry, it didn't rain. And I really had a great week.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Remarkably, she completed her first triathlon at age 50 and went on to win five global titles in her age group.

    Elizabeth died Sunday after an apparent bicycle accident on the lakefront path in her beloved hometown of Chicago. She was 76 years old.

    And we are heartbroken.

    And, online, we have more remembrances of Elizabeth from producer Merrill Schwerin, who, together, they worked on dozens of stories.

    That and more is on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

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