WASHINGTON — It had already been a long day, but Judy Woodruff wasn’t in the mood to slow down.
Ms. Woodruff, the anchor of “PBS NewsHour,” was seated under the chandeliers in a ballroom at the State Department on April 27, attending an event celebrating powerful women. Chilean sea bass and compulsive networking were on the menu.
One table over sat Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and Dina Powell, a senior counselor to President Trump and a deputy national security adviser for strategy. At Ms. Woodruff’s table was the rare person she hadn’t seen before: Julie Radford, Ivanka Trump’s new chief of staff.
The sea bass would have to wait.
“It’s an opportunity to get to know them,” Ms. Woodruff said of the women nearby. “And then I can ask questions.”
This was an average day for Ms. Woodruff, who tends to stuff her calendar with luncheons, dinner parties and, of course, a daily hourlong news broadcast that may need to be reformatted in the time it takes for Mr. Trump to post a message on Twitter. On this evening, wearing the same dark teal dress she had worn during that day’s newscast, Ms. Woodruff worked the room.
“Yesterday it was health care and tax reform,” she said, rattling off the week’s news in between posing for selfies with a few admirers. “Today it was Nafta.”
Ms. Woodruff has been working in Washington since 1977, when she landed in the capital to cover President Jimmy Carter’s administration. The modern news cycle is a little different now — less of a cycle and more like a cyclone, the informational equivalent of standing in front of a tennis ball machine. At “NewsHour,” long known for its slower pace, viewership is up 20 percent over this time last year, with an average of 1.24 million viewers a minute, according to Nielsen.
This audience is tiny compared with its larger network counterparts, but the program tends to attract an engaged audience of highly educated viewers. (The average “NewsHour” viewer is 68 years old.) Ms. Woodruff’s measured delivery, with her hands clasped and her voice low, stands as a counterweight to a haywire era of American news, and she evokes the formal manner of broadcast giants who came before her.
In a media landscape dominated more than ever by the pursuit of clicks and ratings, the thought of an hourlong newscast, untethered to the trends of the moment, seems almost radical. Ms. Woodruff thinks that viewers may be seeking out a more immersive broadcast.
“We don’t feel the need to go off on a tangent and cover something that’s the Twitter story of the day,” she said. “Not the bright shiny thing that someone threw up in the air for a moment.”
That is easier said than done when the person lobbing shiny objects is the president. Ms. Woodruff is keeping pace with the news demands, but she was not supposed to lead “NewsHour” alone. She was part of a milestone moment for women in journalism when she and Gwen Ifill — a trailblazer for black journalists — were named co-anchors in 2013, making it the first network broadcast to be anchored by two women.
Ms. Ifill’s death from cancer last November, six days after the election, stunned even the people closest to her. After covering the aftermath of the election and grappling with the loss of Ms. Ifill, Ms. Woodruff and “NewsHour” producers recently began a cautious search for another co-anchor.
Until then, Ms. Woodruff is at the helm on her own, and the news isn’t stopping.
Read more at The New York Times.