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Pioneering Journalist Marlene Sanders Remembered

Journalist Marlene Sanders, seen here on Dec. 1, 2005, died Tuesday at the age of 84.
Bryan Bedder Getty Images
Journalist Marlene Sanders, seen here on Dec. 1, 2005, died Tuesday at the age of 84.

Tributes are pouring in for Marlene Sanders, the television news pioneer who died Tuesday at the age of 84.

NPR's Susan Stamberg tells our Newscast unit:

"Whether they know it or not, every woman in broadcast news owes a debt to Marlene Sanders. With intelligence and determination, Sanders broke into what had been an all-male profession. Before the 1970s, when women entered the workplace in large numbers, Sanders began a career which involved everything from war reporting to news management. In addition to reporting, she briefly anchored network newscasts, produced documentaries on the status of women, and spoke forcefully on behalf of women journalists. Sanders mentored generations of women in news, and spent two decades teaching journalism at New York University."

Sanders, who died of cancer in New York, was one of the first female reporters on television. On ABC and then CBS in the 1960s and '70s , she covered politics, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the Vietnam War.


"Marlene Sanders got there first," Bill Moyers told The Associated Press. "That women are finally recognized as first-rate professionals is due in no small part to the path-breaking courage of Marlene Sanders."

News of her death was announced Tuesday by her son, Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer at The New Yorker and a legal analyst for CNN, on his Facebook page.

"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."

The AP adds:

"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."

Sanders moved to CBS News in 1978. There, she wrote and produced documentarie and reported and wrote on the women's movement. Her documentary work earned her three Emmys.


Sanders also co-wrote (with Marcia Rock) Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News.

Her husband, Jerome Toobin, died in 1984. She is survived by her son, Jeffrey Toobin, and three grandchildren.

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