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Last modified: Monday, March 26, 2012

PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer will discuss 2012 elections, debates at IU on April 13

Journalist will also be honored with the first Lee H. Hamilton Public Service Fellowship

March 26, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jim Lehrer, distinguished journalist and executive editor and anchor of the "PBS NewsHour," will speak at Indiana University Bloomington at 4 p.m. Friday, April 13, in Ballantine Hall 013.

Hosting Lehrer during his visit are the Center on Congress, the Institute for Advanced Study, the School of Journalism and WTIU.

The public is welcome, but because of limited seating, free tickets will be required. They will be distributed -- beginning Monday, April 2 -- in Ernie Pyle Hall, 940 E. Seventh St., Room 200. Public parking is available in lots adjacent to the Indiana Memorial Union on Seventh Street.

During the program, "A Conversation With Jim Lehrer," Lehrer will discuss the 2012 election campaign and presidential debates, which he discusses in his new book, "Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain."

While Lehrer is on campus, the Center on Congress and the Institute for Advanced Study will present him with the Lee H. Hamilton Public Service Fellowship, named in honor of the former, long-term representative from Indiana.

"Jim Lehrer has set the standard for journalistic excellence, professional integrity and personal civility," said Hamilton, who served in Congress from 1965 to 1999 and is now director of the Center on Congress at IU. "I am very pleased to welcome him to Bloomington as the first Hamilton Public Service Fellow."

"The Institute for Advanced Study has a long history of bringing distinguished public servants to the IU campus," added John Bodnar, director of the Institute for Advanced Study and Chancellor's Professor in the Department of History. "We are particularly proud to be able to honor two such individuals -- Jim Lehrer and Lee Hamilton -- in one special occasion."

Known best for 30 years of nightly news reporting on PBS, Lehrer started working first as a newspaper reporter, then a political columnist and city editor. His first work in public television was as executive director of public affairs and host of a nightly news program in Dallas. He moved to PBS to serve as news and public affairs coordinator and, in 1973, partnered on air with correspondent Robert MacNeil to provide coverage and analysis of the Watergate hearings.

By 1975, "The Robert MacNeil Report" debuted with Lehrer as the Washington correspondent and shortly was renamed "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report" with Lehrer as co-anchor. The show won more than 30 awards and became a staple of the PBS lineup.

MacNeil retired in 1996, and Lehrer left nightly anchor duties last year. He remains executive editor of the program and occasionally anchors Friday night analyses.

Lehrer is the recipient of the National Press Club's Fourth Estate Award, two Emmys, the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, the George Foster Peabody Broadcast Award and the William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit. He is a member of the Television Hall of Fame and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lehrer also has served as moderator for 11 presidential election debates, including the 2008 Obama-McCain series, and has crafted a second career as author of many books, memoirs and plays, including several mystery/thrillers and a recent nonfiction book about presidential elections.