CBS News veteran journalist Maria Mercader, who for decades helped the network deliver breaking news around the world, died from the coronavirus on Sunday at age 54.
Mercader had been on medical leave for an unrelated issue since late February and died from COVID-19 in a New York hospital. According to CBS, she had cancer and related illnesses for over 20 years “and was an inspiration each time she returned to work after a setback threatened to end her life.”
“Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit,” Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and senior executive producer, said in a statement. “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.”
Mercader started at CBS News in 1987 in the network’s Page Program. She then helped produce several high-profile stories while working on the foreign and national desks, including Princess Diana’s death and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2004, Mercader won a Business Emmy for her “CBS Sunday Morning” report on computer spam.
Her most recent role was director of talent strategy, helping lead the network’s efforts in pushing workplace diversity for the past four years. Mercader was also 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.
“The Maria we are privileged to call family and friend knew better than most the power of relationships, loyalty, faith, kindness, perseverance and a smile, even when a smile defied the darkness of the moment,” Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, EVP of strategic professional development at CBS News, said in a statement. “Her notable professional contributions are part of the CBS Archives, but it is her magnificent human spirit that touched so many of us, that will stay with us forever.”
Mercader is survived by her father and brother.