Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape the Sound and Culture of NPR, Passes at 75
Cokie Roberts. Credit: Jay Godwin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape the Sound and Culture of NPR, Passes at 75

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(CelebrityAccess) – Pioneering journalist, bestselling author and Emmy Award winner, Cokie Roberts, who helped shape NPR, has passed away at the age of 75.

Roberts died Tuesday due to complications from breast cancer, according to a statement from her family.

Known as one of the ‘founding mothers’ of NPR, Roberts was one of the public broadcaster’s most recognizable voices and is considered one of a handful of pioneering female journalists — along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg — who helped shape the station’s sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism.

Born in New Orleans as Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, she was given the nickname Cokie by her brother, Thomas, who had trouble pronouncing Corinne.

Roberts began her career in the 1960s at WNEW and KNBC-TV. She joined CBS News in 1974 and then NPR in 1978, where she went on to become the public broadcaster’s congressional correspondent covering major stories on Capitol Hill and reporting on the Panama Canal Treaty. She and would eventually split her time between NPR and ABC News. Roberts also served as a correspondent for “The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour” and as a contributing senior news analyst for PBS.

“Cokie’s kindness, generosity, sharp intellect and thoughtful take on the big issues of the day made ABC a better place and all of us better journalists. Please take a moment today to remember an exceptional reporter and remarkable friend,” said ABC News president James Goldston, in a thoughtfully penned memo sent to ABC staffers.

Roberts is survived by her husband of more than 50 years, Steve V. Roberts, and her children Lee Roberts and Rebecca Roberts, her grandchildren Regan, Hale and Cecilia Roberts and Claiborne, Jack and Roland Hartman, along with nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Read Goldston’s full memo below:

Team,

I’m writing with very sad news. Our dear friend and colleague Cokie Roberts passed away this morning in Washington, surrounded by her family and closest friends.

Cokie had a storied career over 40 years in television, public radio and publishing. She started at ABC as a contributor for This Week with David Brinkley, appearing frequently on the roundtable. She was ABC’s chief congressional analyst, anchored This Week with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002 and was known as one of the smartest political commentators on television and radio for decades. A true pioneer for women in journalism, Cokie was well-regarded for her insightful analysis of politics and policy in Washington, DC., countless newsmaking interviews, and, notably, her unwavering support for the generations of young women — and men — who would follow her in her footsteps.

In the 1970s Cokie started in radio as a foreign correspondent for CBS, before moving to NPR to cover Capitol Hill in 1978. She would go on to become the congressional correspondent for NPR, where she would eventually split her time with ABC News. Cokie is perhaps the only reporter to have filed for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, World News Tonight and Nightline all in a single day.

A terrifically talented writer and historian, Cokie published six books, many of them best-sellers and most about women in American history, whose stories often had been overlooked. She won every major award in journalism and was recognized with over 30 honorary degrees. Cokie was named one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting by the American Women in Radio and Television, and the Library of Congress declared her a “Living Legend” in 2008, making her one of the very few Americans ever honored.

Her beloved husband Steve was at her side through all of it. They were married for over 50 years and wrote a widely popular syndicated newspaper column and two books together. Cokie and Steve were married in the garden of her parents’ Bethesda home, where Cokie grew up and they would later raise their family. They had two children, Lee and Rebecca, and six grandchildren, whom she cherished.

Please join me in sending your thoughts and prayers to Cokie’s family and loved ones. Her family passed along the message below. We will share details about the service when they’re available.

She will be dearly missed. Cokie’s kindness, generosity, sharp intellect and thoughtful take on the big issues of the day made ABC a better place and all of us better journalists. Please take a moment today to remember an exceptional reporter and remarkable friend.

James

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