Gwen Ifill was the daughter of Caribbean immigrants and grew up during the tumultuous 1960s. Recollecting on that charged socio-political atmosphere she said, “I was very conscious of the world being this very crazed place that demanded explanation,” in a 2011 interview with the Archive of American Television.
She went on to become a member of the very exclusive club of mainstream journalism. Ifill worked at the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC and PBS. Beginning in 2013, she was the managing editor and co-anchor of NewsHour, replacing the male anchor team with the first all-female anchor team in nightly news.
Many of her contemporaries have said the most important aspect of Ifill’s career was what it represented to thousands of young black girls across America. She was a highly educated and accomplished African-American woman who successfully navigated the predominantly white, male world of journalism.
In this clip, a young Gwen Ifill, on assignment as the White House correspondent for the New York Times, has an informal conversation with Governor Bill Clinton. It was produced by a crew of Skip Blumberg, Eddie Becker and Tom Weinberg, backstage on March 17, 1992. This completely unguarded conversation ranges from politics to views on scripture and presents an alternative to the packaged portrayals usually seen on mainstream media. This raw camera original video clip serves the dual purpose of celebrating and icon of journalism and highlighting the unique and rare footage being made available by Media Burn Archive. Without our work, this video would never have been preserved for posterity.
Interestingly enough, despite their apparent rapport in this footage, the stories Ifill filed immediately before and after this conversation actually focused on several scandals facing the Governor and First Lady of Arkansas. [Thanks to Bill Stamets for the tip!]
The footage was shot for our national PBS series The 90’s. It was digitized as part of our “Save America’s Treasures” / Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation project that helped us save hundreds of fragile tapes documenting this fascinating moment in American and Illinois politics. To watch the entire 60-minute camera original video click here.