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PBS Relaunches NewsHour

ARLINGTON, VA.: PBS relaunched its long-time news franchise last night as the “PBS Newshour,” removing iconic anchor Jim Lehrer’s name after more than three decades. Lehrer, sole anchor of the program since Robert MacNeil left in 1995, will be joined by senior correspondents Judy Woodruff, Gwen Ifill and Jeffrey Brown at the helm of the show. It will feature a new graphics package, more field reports, the addition of Hari Sreenivasan, formerly of CBS News, who will post “The Rundown,” the show’s new daily blog.

The changes are being done in part to extend the franchise further on the Web. The graphics package will carry over on the redesigned Web site, relaunched Dec. 3. In addition to the news blog, the site features video news summaries and verticals “created to capitalize on the personalities and strengths of various correspondents,” PBS said. E.g., economic correspondent Paul Solman’s business Desk and Jeff Brown’s Art Beat--as well as other correspondents and reporting units.

Producers will also collaborate more with other public broadcasting contributors, including the makers of “Frontline,” National Public Radio and local public media creators. Collaborations have also been announced with the Christian Science Monitor and GlobalPost, the news site founded by the former president of the New England Cable News Network and a veteran foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe.

Lehrer emphasized the NewsHour’s journalistic commitment when he signed off of the show on Friday.

“People often ask me if there are guidelines in our practice of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism. Well, yes, there are. And here they are:
--Do nothing I cannot defend.
--Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
--Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
--Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
--Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
--Assume personal lives are a private matter, until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
--Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
--Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes, except on rare and monumental occasions.
--No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
--And, finally, I am not in the entertainment business.”

Lehrer’s comments and reaction to them is available at the new “NewsHour” Web site.