South Florida recently witnessed an end of an era for journalism with Carmel Cafiero’s passing – she was one of South Florida’s premier investigative reporters, with nearly four decades worth of reporting experience to call upon and an unflagging pursuit for truth and justice. She will long be remembered in South Florida.
Early Life and Initial Steps in Journalism
Cafiero’s journey in journalism began in the heart of New Orleans, her birthplace. Her tryst with the microphone started in radio, but it was at WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge where she made history, becoming the first woman to anchor an evening newscast in Louisiana.
|Birthplace||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Early Career||Started in radio; first woman to anchor an evening newscast at WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge|
|Channel 7 Entry||Joined in 1973 as a general assignment reporter|
|Landmark Contributions||Became the first female journalist at Channel 7|
|Notable Investigations||Went undercover to expose unlicensed doctors and deceptive clinic workers|
|Awards||Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award for her work on the opioid crisis|
|Social Impact||Instrumental in passing a prescription drug monitoring program in Florida|
|Career Span||43 years|
|Areas of Focus||Health, social issues, crime, crisis reporting, and more|
|Key Characteristics||Tenacity, persistence, commitment to truth|
|Compassionate Reporting||Covered Hurricane Andrew and rallied community support for individuals in need|
|International Reporting||Tracked a Miami-Dade Commissioner in Australia; covered a cruise ship disaster in Italy|
|Family||Survived by husband Bob, daughter Courtney, and granddaughters Mariah and Melanie|
|Legacy||Left an indelible mark on journalism in South Florida|
Breaking Ceilings at Channel 7
However, it was in 1973, when she boarded the ship of WCKT, now Channel 7, that she embarked on a transformative journey not only for herself but for the entire region’s journalistic landscape. At a time when newsrooms across the country were majorly male-dominated, Cafiero carved a niche for herself at Channel 7.
Undercover Investigations and Advocacy
One of Cafiero’s most notable investigations involved her going undercover, donning a wig, to unmask unlicensed doctors and deceptive clinic workers. The audacity of her investigation came to light when she was falsely declared pregnant based on a urine sample that, in fact, belonged to her male photographer.
Exposing Health and Safety Risks
Her relentless spirit did not stop there. South Florida homeowners are indebted to her for exposing the menace of defective Chinese drywall. In another revelation, she highlighted the peril of pet jerky treats from China, implicating them in numerous dog fatalities.
Highlighting the Opioid Crisis
Cafiero’s undying commitment to her profession can also be gauged from her pivotal reporting on the opioid crisis that had Broward County at its heart. She was instrumental in highlighting the widespread misuse of these potent prescription drugs.
Confronting Social Issues
However, it wasn’t just the big stories that defined her. From confronting nightclub owners about young teens overdosing to exposing the dubious claims of self-proclaimed psychic Miss Cleo, Cafiero’s reportage was a testament to her tenacity.
Reporting in Times of Crisis
Her spirit was unwavering even during national emergencies. After the harrowing September 11th attacks, she was the foremost journalist to step inside the former residence of terrorist Mohamed Atta in Hollywood.
An International Footprint
The breadth of her journalistic journey took her from local streets to international waters, be it tracking a former Miami-Dade Commissioner in distant Australia or interrogating the captain involved in a major cruise ship debacle in Italy.
Compassion Beyond Reporting
Cafiero’s commitment wasn’t just limited to hardcore investigative journalism. She was equally compassionate, evident from her coverage of Hurricane Andrew’s aftermath or the touching tale of Selma Shapiro, a lady living in a rat-infested home.
Legacy and Impact
For 43 years, Carmel Cafiero stood as a pillar of integrity, strength, and determination. As South Florida mourns the loss of this journalistic giant, her legacy remains, reminding everyone of the power of truth and the importance of the Fourth Estate.
Family and Memories
Cafiero’s life, marked by numerous accolades and groundbreaking stories, is survived by the love and memories of her husband, daughter, and granddaughters. Her tale, like her impact, is timeless.