“Sad news about one of our founding mothers,” wrote Michele Kelemen, an NPR correspondent who has been with the outlet for more than two decades.
For many women, Roberts was the reason they pursued a career in journalism.
“A legend has passed,” NPR’s Rachel Martin said. “When I was in high school I wanted to grow up to be Cokie Roberts.”
“Cokie Roberts inspired me to become a journalist (and go to Wellesley),” Washington Post reporter Heather Long said on Twitter. “She was one of the few women on Sunday talks shows when I was growing up. She was always smart, fierce and insightful.”
Farrah Fazal, an investigative reporter, said the death of Roberts was a “complete, irreplaceable loss” to the field. “She was a pioneer, a mentor, committed to integrity and truth, a driving force in trying to change the system that held women back.”
Other reporters recalled Roberts’s career wisdom.
“The advice from @CokieRoberts was consistent,” journalist and former NPR host Michele Norris tweeted. “Forget the office politics. Just do the work … She read my copy and pushed me to write in my own voice.”
Nina Totenberg, an NPR legal affairs reporter, said she bid Roberts farewell Monday evening.
“The world will be a lesser place without my darling friend, Cokie Roberts,” Totenberg said. “Told her I’d see her on the other side some day, where I know she will still be a star.”
Totenberg praised Roberts’s reporting and writing prowess in a longer tribute posted by NPR, where Totenberg says her friend’s death left the newsroom in tears. But she also remembered a woman who was “the personification of human decency” — the kind of person who spoke often at funerals, visited casual friends in the hospital and helped those in need.
Roberts did not let her cancer keep her from giving speeches, making media appearances and doing her work, Totenberg said. She had planned to attend last week’s Democratic primary debate until “her disease finally trumped her grit,” as Totenberg put it. And she went out to the movies with Totenberg and others 10 days ago despite her pain and the fact she could hardly eat.
“There was not a chance she was going to cancel commitments, no matter how rotten she felt,” Totenberg wrote. “There was not a chance she would just lie in bed.”
Roberts joined CBS on the radio as a foreign correspondent soon after her 1964 graduation from Wellesley College. She covered Capitol Hill for NPR beginning in 1978, when she reported on the Panama Canal Treaty, then served as congressional correspondent for more than a decade, according to ABC News.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Roberts “a trailblazer who forever transformed the role of women in the newsroom and in our history books.”
“Over five decades of celebrated journalism, Cokie shone a powerful light on the unsung women heroes who built our nation, but whose stories had long gone untold,” Pelosi said in a statement. “As she helped tell the full story of America’s history, she helped shape its future — inspiring countless young women and girls to follow in her groundbreaking footsteps.”
Harrison Smith contributed to this report.