Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Judy Woodruff


Judy Woodruff

Judy Woodruff is an award-winning broadcast journalist who has covered politics and breaking news for over three decades at three major networks, including NBC, PBS and CNN. Woodruff left CNN in June 2005 to pursue longer-form journalism opportunities in addition to teaching, writing and public speaking.

During her 12 years at CNN, Woodruff anchored "Inside Politics," a must-watch show for political insiders and political junkies across the country. Prior to her joining CNN in 1993, Woodruff was the chief Washington correspondent for NBC's "Today Show," the White House correspondent for NBC News, and the chief Washington correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.

She has had a front row seat for much of the nation's major news events. She covered President Jimmy Carter's race to the White House; the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan; reported on eight presidential cycles and moderated debates between vice presidential and presidential candidates; co-anchored CNN's coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; and reported on conflicts throughout the world, including the Middle East and the war in Iraq.

Woodruff credits John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw, Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil as role models and mentors. "I learned how important honesty and integrity are for journalists; how critical it is to get the facts right before you go with any story," she said. "And I learned that the first obligation of a reporter is to help the public understand the world around them, so they can make better-informed decisions as citizens. There is no more important mission for a journalist."

Woodruff graduated from Duke's Woman's College in 1968 with a degree in political science. She was involved in the Student Union, Publications Board, Alpha Delta Pi sorority and Associated Students of Duke (precursor to Duke Student Government).

"The most gratifying thing in life to me is the ability to give to others," she said. "It's always been important to me because of the blessings I've received to be able to give back in ways that make a difference for others, whether it's through journalism or women's issues or, because of our son who has disabilities, those with disabilities."

A defining moment in her life, Woodruff recalled, was deciding to have children as she pursued a career. She reached "the humbling recognition that no matter how hard I try, I can't always give 100 percent to both; and that as much as I love my work, my family will always come first."

Woodruff advises first-year women at Duke to "Seek out those who are different from you. Every day, try to spend time with someone whose religion, political beliefs, or background contrast with yours. That's one way you can make the most of your college education."

Woodruff, a member of the university's Board of Trustees from 1985-97, in 1999 was given the Futrell Award, which recognizes Duke alumni for outstanding careers in communications.