CBS News is mourning Maria Mercader, a longtime journalist with the news outlet who died in a New York hospital at 54 after battling coronavirus.
In a news release shared Sunday afternoon, CBS remembered Mercader as a “network veteran who covered breaking news for nearly three decades. The news release also pointed out that most recently, Mercader helped shape strategy for the network’s correspondents and reporters.”
Maria Mercader battled cancer and “related illnesses” for more than 20 years and had been on medical leave “for an unrelated matter” since the end of February, CBS added.
She began working with the network’s news division as part of the page program in 1987. That was the same year she graduated from the College of New Rochelle and went on to produce meaningful stories for CBS News’ foreign and national desks.
Maria Mercader Early Life
Most recently, she had been working as director of the talent strategy and was “active in coordinating CBS News participation in the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the National Association of Black Journalists,” according to CBS.
“Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit,” said CBS News president and senior executive producer Susan Zirinsky. “Maria was part of all of our lives. Even when she was hospitalized – and she knew something was going on at CBS, she would call with counsel, encouragement and would say ‘You can do this.’ I called Maria a ‘warrior,’ she was. Maria was a gift we cherished.”
Many in the news industry who worked with Mercader paid tribute to her on social media. Longtime CBS anchor Dan Rather called the news a “hard hit to the heart.” “A paragon of grit and grace, she embodied the best of the @CBSNews mission,” he tweeted. “Millions of Americans learned of the world through her efforts. Now our world is less with her loss. RIP”
The Asian American Journalists Association called Mercader a “dear mentor and friend to many AAJA members” in a statement on its website.
“Sending love to my CBS family today,” tweeted CNN politics reporter DJ Judd.
“Maria Mercader was one of the first people I met there, and when my mother was fighting cancer, she was one of our fiercest friends. She was a tenacious journalist who never stopped mentoring young journos, and her loss is a loss for all of us.”
CBS News national correspondent Manuel Bojorquez wrote that they “would joke that I’d survived one type of cancer and she’d survived all the others. And now we’ve lost her to this hideous virus.”