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When Baltimore's Cassie Mackin changed the face of national TV news

The recent death of Sylvia Chase, a pioneering ABC female news broadcaster in the 1960s, recalls an era when such reporters as Lesley Stahl, Connie Chung, Judy Woodruff, Andrea Mitchell, and Baltimore native Catherine “Cassie” Mackin were changing the face of the male-dominated TV news business.

Mackin, who was born and raised in Baltimore, was the first woman to cover politics full-time for a major network, according to ABC.

Born in Baltimore, Mackin lived on Biddle Street until she was 11, when she moved with her family to Rodgers Forge.

An Institute of Notre Dame graduate, she graduated with honors in 1963 from the University of Maryland, College Park, where during her senior year she worked for the old Free State Press. She was also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard from 1967 to 1968.

She began her journalism career in 1963 at the News American and within 18 months had been transferred to the Hearst syndicate’s Washington bureau.

Mackin left Hearst in 1969 when she began her television career at WRC-TV in Washington, where she worked for two years, when she was named a correspondent for NBC News covering politics and government.

She won wide acclaim in 1972 as the first woman TV floor reporter to cover both the Democratic and Republican national conventions while working for NBC.

In his book “The Boys on the Bus,” about the 1972 presidential campaign, author Timothy Crouse wrote that Mackin had done “some of the toughest pieces on the 1972 campaign.”

She joined ABC news as its Capitol Hill correspondent and covered Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s unsuccessful 1980 bid for the Democratic nomination for president. She also filed reporting for ABC’s news magazine “20/20.”

Mackin was 43 when she died from kidney cancer in 1982.

Her funeral Mass at St. Pius X in Rodgers Forge was attended by such news luminaries as ABC network anchorman Frank Reynolds, ABC president Roone Arledge, NBC anchormen Roger Mudd and Tom Brokaw, David Brinkley, Brit Hume and others such as Carl Bernstein, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams.

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