News reporter Gloria Rojas, New York City’s first Latina broadcast journalist, has passed away on February 2, 2022, at the age of 82.
Gloria was a native New Yorker who grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Hunter College High School and received a degree in education from what is now the University at Albany State University of New York. She then graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was hired by WCBS-TV in 1968, and went on to work as a journalist for every major network affiliate in the city for 23 years.
She was, her colleague Geraldo Rivera said, “a true pioneer as New York’s first Latina reporter.”
A no-nonsense, street-smart reporter, Rojas distinguished herself for her sympathetic and concerned treatment of stories, earning numerous community and broadcast awards. Her subject matter was wide-ranging, handling politics, poverty, human interest and more. She also produced numerous special reports and a documentary examining whether Puerto Rico should remain a U.S. commonwealth, or become a state or independent nation.
“Big news stories are not always the most satisfying. It’s the little stories where you can really make a difference,” Rojas told WABC-TV in the early 1980s for a news release on her career. In January 1980, Rojas was elevated to lead news coverage in New Jersey, covering issues such as the state’s dramatic drought, problems with toxic waste, and the role of women in New Jersey politics.
Ms. Rojas began her television career circuitously in 1964. She worked at WABC-TV’s sister station WLS-TV Channel 7 in Chicago as well as WNEW-TV Channel 5, working on the show “Midday Live.” Prior to that, she worked at WNDT (now WNET), the PBS station in New York, and was given her own one-woman bilingual education program. Her viewing audience included Puerto Ricans learning the language of their adopted city and English speakers brushing up on their Spanish.
Rojas also accomplished one of her life goals, publishing a book, “Fire Escapes: A Fictional Memoir.”
“Fire Escapes is titled “A Fictional Memoir” for good reason. Seeing her own life in youth as being fairly conventional, in Fire Escapes she re-invents herself as “Justine Trinidad,” whose mother died in childbirth and was raised in poverty by a spiteful grandmother. In this book Justine looks back on her troubled, motherless youth while working in a newsroom as a broadcast reporter. Rojas brings it all together as an interesting blend of an imagined life and vignettes culled from real events,” according to a description of her book on Amazon.com.
Gloria Rojas was a role model to many women and we mourn her passing.
Watch the video below to see some of Rojas’ reporting for Eyewitness News.
Read more about Gloria Rojas.