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