We have to get out and spend time in small town America, middle-size, Middletown America and the rest of it. Otherwise, our ideas—we’re like an echo chamber in Washington.


Duke alum and veteran journalist Judy Woodruff is the latest addition to the online interview collection of the Rutherfurd Living History program.  In this 1999 sit-down with Rob Christensen of the Raleigh News & Observer, Woodruff explores the changing news industry of that time while positing some interesting ideas resonant with the current relationship of the news consumer and the news media.

On the decreasing public trust in the media, Woodruff observes, “To the extent the press is seen as a player in the political arena, I think that we run the risk of tarnishing whatever good is left in our image. And we are seen increasingly as a player. People see us as not just conduits of information, which is perhaps what we did at one time, but now more and more we’re analyzing. And we’re not just analyzing. We are speculating and giving opinion.”  Later, she adds, “…the lines are blurred and people see reporters one day—or they may see a byline in a newspaper and the next day they see that person on a talk show on television going ‘thumbs down’ or ‘thumbs up’ on something that one of the candidates did. So naturally, they’re blurred.”

After working at NBC News and PBS and anchoring “Inside Politics” for 12 years at CNN, Woodruff returned to PBS in 2007 where she is currently Anchor and Managing Editor at NewsHour.  Woodruff transferred to Duke from Meredith College after her sophomore year, graduating in 1968 with a degree in Political Science.  She often credits her rigorous and engaging course load at Duke and relationships with Duke professors with forming both her passion for politics and her decision to pursue a career in journalism.

Woodruff, a Duke Trustee Emerita who actively served from 1985-1997, is the recipient of a Duke Distinguished Alumni Award and a Futrell Award for Outstanding Achievement in Communications and Journalism.  In 2006, she was a visiting professor at Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at the Sanford School of Public Policy, teaching “Media and Politics: The Clash of Ideology, Technology and Ownership.” Judy Woodruff is currently a trustee of The Duke Endowment and recently donated her papers to the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (housed in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University).

Woodruff was profiled last month in the New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/style/judy-woodruff-pbs-newshour.html

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