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The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

From Academic Kids

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The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer logo, 2005.

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer is an evening television news program broadcast weeknights on PBS in the United States. Unlike most other evening newscasts in the country, it is an hour in length. The program runs longer segments than most other news outlets in the U.S., with in-depth coverage of the subjects involved. The NewsHour avoids the use of sound bites, playing back extended portions of news conferences and holding interviews that last several minutes. The program was initially hosted by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, but MacNeil left the spotlight in 1995. The show continues to be produced by their joint production company, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, which is 65% owned by Liberty Media.

MacNeil and Lehrer had covered the United States Senate Watergate hearings for PBS starting in 1973, which led to an Emmy Award. This recognition helped them as they worked to create The Robert MacNeil Report with Jim Lehrer as a half-hour local news program for WNET in 1975 that covered a single issue in-depth. A few months later, the program was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and began to be broadcast nationally on PBS stations. The program changed formats and extended to an hour in length in 1983, becoming known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour until MacNeil left the program.

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Compared with other shows, The NewsHour runs at a slow pace. At the start of the program, a news summary that lasts a few minutes is given, briefly explaining many of the headlines around the world. This is typically followed by three or four longer news segments running 10-15 minutes that explore a few of the headline events in greater detail. The program often wraps up with a reflective essay, but on Fridays it ends with a debate between two journalists. As of 2004, the two people who usually debate are Mark Shields and David Brooks (Paul Gigot, who Brooks replaced, occasionally fills in).

According to Nielsen ratings at the program's website, 2.7 million people watch the program each night, and 8 million individuals watch in the course of a week. It is broadcast on more than 300 PBS stations, reaching 99% of the viewing public, and audio is broadcast by some National Public Radio stations. Broadcasts are also made available worldwide via satellites operated by various agencies. Archives of most of the shows are available in several streaming media formats (including full-motion video) at the program's website. The program originates in Washington, D.C., with additional facilities in San Francisco, California and Denver, Colorado, and is a collaboration between PBS television stations WNET, WETA, and KQED.

Many people work on The NewsHour. The program's senior correspondents are Margaret Warner, Gwen Ifill, and Ray Suarez. Essayists include Jim Fisher, Clarence Page, Anne Taylor Fleming, and Richard Rodriguez. Correspondents include Kwame Holman, Susan Dentzer, Jeffrey Brown, Fred de Sam Lazaro, Terence Smith and others.

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