When I heard the news that Gwen Ifill had died, like so many others, I gasped. She was an icon, and more importantly, she was a trusted voice who helped untangle complex issues and events, from domestic politics to foreign affairs. Whenever I looked to find out what was really happening in the world, she was there.
In 2010, Tanenbaum honored Gwen for her commitment to truth, integrity and respect—and for her role as a Media Bridge Builder in a world too often divided. That was a special moment for us.
So when I heard of her loss, I was not only shocked. I was shaken. In losing Gwen, we added one more nail in the coffin of truth and integrity in public life.
During the last several decades, and certainly in the recent election cycle, we have witnessed the erosion of truth, together with a spiraling inability to assess and debate real facts. We can blame technology. We can blame tribalism. We can blame Twitter.
But the reality is that, for many reasons, getting to truth and complexity is now hard. So, as I remember Gwen Ifill, I say thank you. She reminded us that facts matter. Why truth is valuable. How we can hold vastly different opinions and still debate them. And why we must have the same—real—facts when we do so.
The loss of Gwen Ifill makes it much more difficult to stay the course of civility, truth and discourse. More difficult, and that much more important.
To honor her legacy, we all need to assume responsibility. To honor accuracy, truth and the dignity of all people. At Tanenbaum, we are committed to remembering Gwen Ifill and in trying to honor her by the way we do our work every day.
May her memory be for a blessing.
Joyce S. Dubensky
Gwen Ifill, 2010 Tanenbaum Media Bridge Builder awardee.