Gloria Rojas, pioneering ‘Eyewitness News’ reporter who covered NJ, dies at 82

Gloria Rojasan old reporter for WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News” who broke new ground in the 1970s as the first Latina broadcast journalist in New York, has died.

She was 82reports ABC.

Rojas, who died Wednesday at a nursing facility in Cambridge, Maryland, joined “Eyewitness News” in 1974. Her tenure as one of the nation’s most visible Latino television reporters spanned more than 11 years. at ABC.

The New York native, born in 1939, covered the city before moving on to cover New Jersey.

Beginning in 1980, Rojas’ reporting on Garden State covered topics ranging from women in politics to the scourge of toxic waste and the drought that affected Newark, Wayne, and other local communities.

The on-air reporter, who was with the station until 1986, can be seen in old footage (see clip below) broadcast from North Jersey during the April 1982 blizzard, which dumped up to ‘to a foot of snow over parts of the state.

In a clip from 1978, Rojas reports from the Central Park Zoo, which urgently needed funding to improve the living conditions of the animals.

“Great news stories aren’t always the most satisfying,” she once told WABC-TV. “It’s the little stories where you can really make a difference.”

Rojas, who grew up in the Bronx and was of Puerto Rican descent, spent nine years in elementary and high school teacher. The former educator’s talent for talking to children is on full display in her 1979 report on a widespread flu epidemic that led to low attendance at New York schools (see the clip above).

Before joining the ranks of Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel at “Eyewitness News”, Rojas had a program on WNDT-TV Channel 13 (now WNET) where she taught English as a Second Language.

Watching the recording of a news program called “Le monde à 10” in the same television studio interested her in a career as a journalist.

In 1968, she enrolled in a summer program for minority students at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (Geraldo Rivera, another former “Eyewitness News” reporter, graduated from the same program in 1970 after working as a lawyer), according to a 1971 New York Times report.

Rojas studied broadcast journalism at Columbia, starting as an intern at Channel 2 News. There she took a job as a reporter and editor, then worked for WLS-TV in Chicago and WNEW-TV Channel 5 in New York on “Midday Live” before becoming a mainstay at WABC. -TV.

In 2021, the retired television journalist, who lived in Cambridge, Marylandpublished a “fictional memory” called “Fire escapesabout a broadcast journalist.

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Amy Kuperinsky can be reached at akuperinsky@njadvancemedia.com and followed at @AmyKup on Twitter.