Maria Mercader, an award-winning journalist for CBS News, passed away on Sunday from coronavirus, according to Paula Reid, who announced the sad news on Twitter. The Manhattan-based reporter and news producer was 54.
Reid tweeted, “Maria Mercader, a career journalist at CBS News who had a hand in much of the network’s breaking coverage of foreign and domestic breaking news for three decades and lately helped shape talent strategy for the News Division, died today from the COVID-19 coronavirus in a New York hospital. She had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since the last week in February.”
On March 23, former co-worker Nick Barnets tweeted an update on Mercader’s grim health status. He wrote, “Please keep @mariamercader in your thoughts as she’s fighting for her life on a ventilator now in New York due to #COVID19. I worked w/ her during a stint at the CBS News foreign desk in 2010-2011 & know her to be a kind & strong person. We’re all hoping & praying for you Maria!”
Freelance TV news reporter Chris Casquejo also asked for prayers after learning that Mercader was on a ventilator on March 23. He tweeted, “Keep @mariamercader in your prayers. She’s on a ventilator in NYC. She means so much to so many people. That much is clear from the outpouring of support she’s receiving from all over. #PrayForMaria #CBSNews.”
Following Mercader’s passing on Sunday, the CBS Evening News official Twitter account posted thoughts from Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and executive producer. “‘Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit,’ @szirinsky says. ‘Maria was part of all of our lives.'”
Mercader’s mother, Gladys, preceded her in death. Mercader is survived by her father, Manuel, and her brother, also named Manuel. Here’s what you need to know about Maria Mercader:
1. The Emmy-Award Winning Producer Worked for CBS For Over 30 Years
For the past four years, Mercader was the director of talent strategy at CBS News, but she wore many hats during her tenure with the station. Starting in the page program in 1987 immediately after graduating from the College of New Rochelle, she worked her way up the ladder at CBS News, eventually becoming a producer on CBS News’ foreign desk.
Along with David Pogue and Doug Smith, Mercader earned an Emmy in 2014 for their CBS Morning segment on computer scams. She also helped produce some of CBS’s major news stories throughout the decades, including about Princess Diana’s death and the terrorist attacks on September 11.
2. Maria Mercader Was A Cancer Survivor
Paying tribute to Mercader, the American Asian Journalist Association (AAJA) mentioned the news producer was a cancer survivor.
Veteran journalist Dan Rather tweeted, “A hard hit to the heart, news longtime colleague and friend Maria Mercader died from coronavirus. A paragon of grit and grace, she embodied the best of the @CBSNews mission. Millions of Americans learned of the world through her efforts. Now our world is less with her loss. RIP”
3. Mercader’s Final Tweet Was In Support of Fellow TV Journalist Gayle King
While Mercader wasn’t a hugely active Twitter user, on February 9, her final tweet, she retweeted the message of her CBS colleague Anthony Mason, who co-hosts CBS This Morning.
Following the intense online backlash King received for her interview with Lisa Leslie regarding Kobe Bryant, Mason wrote, “A word about my co-host @GayleKing who unjustly went through a rather rough week. She’s one of the most fair & decent people I know & one of the world’s very best interviewers. I admire her both as a journalist & a friend. Gayle, we love you & we’ve got your back @CBSThisMorning.”
Mercader’s previous tweet was also a nod in solidarity with her CBS News crew. In January she wrote, “Yes @CBSNews should be your team for all political news.”
4. CBS News Was Forced To Evacuate Two Of Their Buildings Prior to New York City’s Shut Down
Three weeks ago, CBS News announced that all employees in two of their buildings, both located on West 57th street in Manhattan, were to work from home after learning two staffers tested positive for the coronavirus.
CBS Broadcast Center in New York City is located at 513 West 57th Street between 11th and 12th avenues, a few blocks south of Lincoln Center. The second building is located directly across the street at 555 West 57th Street.
Due to Mercader’s preexisting conditions, she had been on medical leave for a few weeks before two CBS employees tested positive for COVID-19. On March 11, Zirinsky said in a statement, “We are asking that employees in both buildings work remotely for the next two days while the buildings are cleaned and disinfected. In addition, we have identified employees who may have been in direct contact with these individuals in question, and they will be asked to self-quarantine and work remotely for the next 14 days.”
5. Heartfelt Tributes To Mercader From Colleagues, Friends & Fans Were Shared on Twitter
Al Ortiz, CBS News vice president of standards and practices, said, “Maria was one of the bravest, funniest, and most supportive colleagues most of us have ever known. She was a woman of strong faith with a clear sense of right and wrong.”
“Maria was a friend to all,” said Laurie Orlando, CBS News senior vice president of talent. “It’s nearly impossible to be someone EVERYONE loves, but Maria was. She always had a warm hug, a word of advice or support and a big smile for everyone in her life. She was a bright light and will be sorely missed.”
CBS News’ Fin Gomez tweeted, “Devastating to hear the tragic news of the passing of
@CBSNews’ Maria Mercader to the #coronavirus. She was such a trailblazing journalist & news executive. She was so inspiring & kind.”