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Jim Lehrer’s “NewsHour” Gets Spiffed Up

ARLINGTON, VA.: The evening news on PBS is going all multiplatform and getting a new name. “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” now sole anchor, will become the “PBS NewsHour” and go back to having two anchors. Lehrer once shared the newscast with Robert MacNeil, who left in 1995, and has handled the seat solo since then. Lehrer, who turns 75 this month, will remain executive editor and primary anchor. He’ll share the cockpit with senior correspondents Judy Woodruff, Gwen Ifill and Jeffrey Brown. Two other senior correspondents, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner, will focus on remote newsgathering.

The content itself will be distributed via a new strategy merging on-air and online operations, with intent to tailor the material most effectively for each platform. A new, yet-to-be identified correspondent will represent the “NewsHour” online, doing five-minute video posts throughout the day, and anchoring the show’s on-air news summary.

The show will have new graphics and a new title animation that’s carried over on the Web site. It will also collaborate with “Frontline,” the PBS investigative series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston. Producers will also work with NPR and other local public media outlets. The changes were announced at the PBS leadership conference in Baltimore recently.

“NewsHour,” evolved out of “The Robert MacNeil Report,” which itself evolved out of MacNeil and Lehrer’s coverage of the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s. Three years ago, the show’s studios at WETA-TV got a makeover that led it into full HD production Dec. 17, 2007. The show had an average audience of around 1.2 million viewers last year, The New York Times’ Elizabeth Jensen reported. The “NewsHour” Web site puts the figure at 3 million. The show is carried in Japan on NHK as well as in Europe, Latin American, the Middle East and Africa via the U.S. Information Agency’s WorldNet Satellite. The redesigned “NewsHour” will debut in mid-September. -- Deborah D. McAdams