Pi­o­neer­ing TV jour­nal­ist Mar­lene San­ders, for­merly of ABC and CBS News, dies at 84

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM -

Mar­lene San­ders, a vet­eran tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist for ABC and CBS News at a time when rel­a­tively few women did that job, has died of can­cer. She was 84.

San­ders also was the mother of CNN and New Yorker jour­nal­ist Jeffrey Toobin, who an­nounced on his Face­book page that she died Tues­day.

“A pi­o­neer­ing tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist — the first net­work news­woman to re­port from Viet­nam, among many other firsts — she in­formed and inspired a gen­er­a­tion,’’ Toobin wrote. “Above all, though, she was a great mom.’’

San­ders was a pro­ducer for the late Mike Wal­lace in the early stages of his ca­reer. She wrote, re­ported and pro­duced news and doc­u­men­taries for WNEW-TV in New York be­fore join­ing ABC News in 1964. She worked there for 14 years.

She was the first woman to an­chor a net­work evening news­cast in 1964 when she filled in for Ron Cochran. She re­ported from Viet­nam in 1966 and later be­came the first woman to be a vice-pres­i­dent at ABC News, where she was head of the net­work’s doc­u­men­tary unit.

“Mar­lene San­ders got there first,’’ jour­nal­ist and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Bill Moy­ers said. “That women are fi­nally rec­og­nized as first-rate pro­fes­sion­als is due in no small part to the path-break­ing courage of Mar­lene San­ders.’’

In 1978, San­ders moved to CBS News, where she also wrote and pro­duced doc­u­men­taries. She of­ten re­ported and wrote on the women’s move­ment and closely fol­lowed the sta­tus of women in her own in­dus­try, said James Gold­ston, ABC News pres­i­dent.

San­ders co-au­thored a book, “Wait­ing for Prime Time: The Women of Tele­vi­sion News,’’ and taught at New York Univer­sity and the Columbia Grad­u­ate School of Jour­nal­ism.

NYU pro­fes­sor Mary W. Quigley said San­ders “truly was an amaz­ing woman’’ in her pro­fes­sional ac­com­plish­ments and her per­sonal style.

“She was a tough, de­mand­ing teacher, fa­mous for her weekly news quizzes,’’ said Quigley, who has writ­ten books about moth­er­hood and work and blogs for the AARP. “She re­ally pushed stu­dents yet was beloved by them, many of whom are now work­ing in the TV in­dus­try. She was sched­uled to teach next fall — not bad for 84! — un­til she took ill a few weeks ago. She will be missed by all.’’

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