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…