Elaine Rivera, former WNYC reporter, dies at 54

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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 PostTime 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: [email protected].

Please send obituary notices to [email protected]
Editor’s note: This obituary has been reposted with additional information, as published in the Nov. 18 edition of Current.

4 thoughts on “Elaine Rivera, former WNYC reporter, dies at 54

  1. AMEN, ayplease.

    Elaine was a consummate journalist throughout the decades of her professional life. I met her long ago at NY Newsday, and know of very few other people who moved from a major NYC daily through the Washington Post and Time, before having the courage to move into another medium altogether, before finally ending her storied and colorful journalism career in a teaching position, where her students were the primary concern of her life.

    And… if she was so inferior, why did she tell me very recently that people would stop her on the street, in stores, and at gatherings in NYC because they recognized her voice?

    They recognized her voice because they listened to her because they liked or appreciated her work.

    We should all be so appreciated.

  2. go ahead and delete the comment all you want. The fact remains that it was CLASSLESS to say what you did about Elaine. the way to do it would be to FIX the quote like you were asked to do and not delete the comments telling the truth.

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