MacNeil Returns to ‘NewsHour’ for Autism Series

Veteran journalist Robert MacNeil will return to the “PBS NewsHour” in April for a six-part series of reports on autism, the program said Tuesday.

The series will mark the first time Mr. MacNeil, who stepped down as the program’s co-anchor in 1995, has reported for the “NewsHour” in a decade, although he has continued to do occasional work for PBS in recent years, and excerpts of some of those programs have aired on the newscast.

What drew him back for the autism reports was a personal tie; his 6-year-old grandson Nick has autism, “NewsHour” said in a release, adding that it was the first time in Mr. MacNeil’s five decades as a journalist that he has chosen to bring his own family into a story.

The reports are being produced by journalist Caren Zucker, who also has a 16-year-old autistic son.

“NewsHour” said the series, which is scheduled to be broadcast April 18 through April 26, will profile the experience of children with autism and its impact on families, including Mr. MacNeil’s. It will also explore the medical research into causes of autism and the public policy issues it raises.

Mr. MacNeil, an NBC News correspondent earlier in his career, started anchoring a half-hour nightly newscast called the “Robert MacNeil Report “ for PBS in 1975. The following year, it was renamed “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” when then Washington correspondent Jim Lehrer joined the anchor desk.

The program, which has been honored with every major broadcast journalism award, continues to be anchored by Mr. Lehrer. It became the “NewsHour” when it expanded to an hour in 1983.