Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934, Jim Lehrer received an A.A. degree from Victoria College and a B.J. from the University of Missouri before joining the Marine Corps. From 1959 to 1966, he was a reporter for both the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times-Herald . He was also a political correspondent at the Times-Herald for several years, and in 1968 he became that paper's city editor.
Jim's newspaper career led him to public television, first in Dallas as KERA-TV's executive director of public affairs, on-air host and editor of a nightly news program. He subsequently moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as the public affairs coordinator for PBS, and was also a member of PBS's Journalism Advisory Board and a fellow at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Jim went on to join the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT) as a correspondent.
It was Jim's work with NPACT that led to his first association with Robert MacNeil and, ultimately, to their long-term partnership. In 1973, they teamed up to provide NPACT's continuous live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings, which was broadcast on PBS. Following that Emmy-winning collaboration, Jim was the solo anchor for PBS coverage of the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry of Richard Nixon.
In October 1975, the half-hour Robert MacNeil Report, with Jim Lehrer as the Washington correspondent, premiered on Thirteen/WNET, New York. Over the next seven years, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (as it was named in 1976) won more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence. In September 1983, Lehrer and MacNeil launched their most ambitious undertaking, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour . The 1995-96 season marks the 20th year of their journalistic odyssey, as well as Robin's departure and Jim's stewardship of the program in its newest incarnation, The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.
Jim has personally won numerous awards for journalism, including several Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Broadcast Awards, the Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit, and the University of Missouri School of Journalism's Medal of Honor. In 1991, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Along with his dedication to journalism, Jim's passion for literature has motivated him to write 11 books, most recently The Last Debate, a satirical novel about journalism, published this fall. Others include two memoirs, A Bus of My Own and We Were Dreamers ; his first novel. Viva Max , which was made into a film starring Peter Ustinov; and a series of One-Eyed Mack mysteries, including Kick the Can, Crown Oklahoma, The Sooner Spy, Lost and Found, Short List , and Fine Lines . Another Mack adventure will be published next year.
Jim has also written several plays. Chili Queen was produced in New York and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 1987; Church Key Charlie Blue premiered in Jackson, Mississippi, in January 1988; and, most recently, The Will and Bart Show was produced in July 1992, at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts.
Along with their on-air work, Jim and Robin are partners in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, which is a coproducer of The NewsHour and has produced other programs and series for public, commercial, and cable television. Lehrer served as host for two of these, which were broadcast as PBS specials. My Heart, Your Heart , a one-hour program on heart disease, received the American Heart Association's Howard Blakeslee Award and a National News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Cultural, Historical or Informational Programming. The Heart of the Dragon, a 12-part series co-hosted by Robin MacNeil, won critical acclaim for its exploration of contemporary and ancient China.
Jim and his wife, Kate, have been married for 36 years. They have three daughters - Amanda, Lucy, and Jamie - and three grandchildren. Kate, also a writer, is the author of three novels, Best Intentions (1987), When They Took Away the Man in the Moon (1993) and Out of Eden (1996).