Elaine Rivera, a reporter for New York’s WNYC from 2006–09, died Oct. 26. She was 54.
The cause of death has not been released, but Rivera had previously battled liver disease.
Raised in Cleveland, Rivera came to radio from print journalism, having previously worked for the Washington Post, Time and Newsday. She covered politics for WNYC, including Eliot Spitzer’s run for governor in 2006 and Hilary Clinton’s run for president in 2008. She also reported several well-received pieces on New York’s neighborhoods, particularly stories that originated out of the Bronx, where she lived.
Maria Hinojosa, founder of Futuro Media Group and a close friend, met Rivera in the mid-1990s while working as NPR’s New York correspondent.
“She was incredibly worldly and astute because she was just a voracious consumer of news from every element,” Hinojosa said. “She was absolutely one of my peers and absolutely someone with whom I had a real, healthy, critical dialogue about journalism in America today.”
Rivera, who was of Puerto Rican heritage, was a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Many of her stories revealed underreported issues within the Latino community, including a 2006 series on the high rates of suicide among Latina teenagers.
“She loved to talk, she loved to engage people and she loved to listen. She could engage somebody and crack them open,” said Karen Frillmann, Rivera’s editor at WNYC.
After she left WNYC in 2009, Rivera taught journalism at Lehman College in the Bronx, part of the City University of New York. She had been on a leave of absence at the time of her death.
“She was beginning to create the next generation of hardnosed reporters and journalists that we need, coming out of these communities that are often invisible in the mainstream media,” Hinojosa said.
Lehman College will hold a memorial service for Rivera Dec. 7 at the Lovinger Theatre, located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West in the Bronx.
The college has also established the Elaine Rivera Memorial Scholarship in Journalism to “help minority and/or economically disadvantaged students fund their journalism education.” To donate, contact Sol Margulies, director of major gifts: Sol.Margulies@Lehman.CUNY.edu.
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