Maria Mercader, a CBS News veteran who worked for over 30 years as a reporter and talent director, died on Sunday after testing positive for coronavirus. She was 54.
Mercader worked on-air for CBS News as a breaking news reporter before becoming director of talent strategy, working on expanding the news division’s staff diversity with the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the National Association of Black Journalists. Mercader had fought multiple health issues for the past two decades, including a bout with cancer, and had taken medical leave for unrelated issues last month.
“Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit,” Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and senior executive producer, said. “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 through the company’s page program and soon took positions at CBS’ foreign and national news desks. As a breaking news reporter, she worked on CBS’ coverage of some of the biggest news stories of the 1990s and 2000s, including the death of Princess Diana and the Sept. 11 attacks.
“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, CBS News’ EVP of Strategic Professional Development, said. “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.”
Maria is survived by her father, Manuel and brother, Manuel.