Marlene Sanders, a Pioneer in TV Journalism, Has Passed Away

A pioneer in TV journalism has passed away at the age of 84. Marlene Sanders, who lost her fight to cancer on July 14, is being remembered as one of the first female broadcast journalists.

The death was announced on Facebook by her son Jeffrey Toobin, who is a legal analyst for CNN and a staff writer for the New Yorker.

He wrote, “She was a pioneering broadcaster and, above all, a great Mom.”

Sanders became the first female news anchor for a prime-time newscast in 1964, after filling in on ABC for Ron Cochran when he lost his voice and was unable to go on air. In addition, in 1966 she was the first woman to report from Vietnam for a TV network. In 1976, she became the first woman named vice-president of ABC News. Although Barbara Walters is generally credited with being the first woman to appear on the news, she did not appear on television until 1976.

For three months in 1971, Sanders took Sam Donaldson’s spot on the Weekend News, which ran on Saturdays. She also was the producer of hundreds of ABC’s documentaries, for which she won three Emmy Awards, before moving to CBS to be a documentary producer and correspondent, in 1978.

Later in life, she became an adjunct professor in the journalism department at New York University. She remained there as a professor and mentor to her students, until recently, when her health started to deteriorate. She passed away at the Calvary Hospital Hospice.

With households now owning 2.24 televisions on average, TV news is still a widely used way of obtaining information. However, with the rise of news apps and websites, it is clear that Sanders’ success happened during the golden era of television news, making her achievements all the more powerful.


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