Legendary Connecticut shoreline reporter Marcia Chambers has passed away. Chambers, who lived in Branford, died Friday at Smilow Cancer Hospital.
Chambers was an award-winning criminal justice reporter described by colleagues and cops as a classic reporter. Brooklyn born, Chambers began her 49-year career in the 1960s. She reported for multiple news organizations, including the Associated Press and The New York Times in the ‘70s.
Chambers settled in Branford and started writing a column in 2006 for the New Haven Independent, an online local news organization. The column, called “The Branford Eagle,” became a standalone sister site.
Paul Bass, editor of the Independent, said Chambers was instrumental in building what was then considered to be a new model of journalism.
“We kind of felt we were inventing a new kind of local journalism and that she and I, as the old heads, had certain values we wanted to preserve,” Bass said. “But we were excited, every week meeting with these 20-somethings who really understood the web.”
Bass said Chambers had both intellect and incredible instinct. Reporting was in her veins.
“She most recently, with an old Times colleague, noticed at the very end of a document about a former Trump administration official plea agreement - she noticed a line that indicated he was wearing a wire,” Bass said, “and still could break that story, at 77 at the time, and an international story.”
Branford Police Captain Geoffrey Morgan said Chambers had a sixth sense when it came to reporting. He recalled an investigation where police were looking for distinctive evidence in connection with a decades-old homicide, but police weren’t releasing that information.
“At the time, Detective William Carroll was standing on the corner of the area that was being searched and just thinking to himself,” Morgan said. “And Marcia Chambers said to me, ‘I can read Billy Carroll’s eyes. You guys are looking for something more than just evidence.’”
Chambers was also an adjunct professor. She taught at the Columbia School of Journalism, the University of Southern California, and Yale University. She wrote a book called The Unplayable Lie: The Untold Story of Women and Discrimination in American Golf. Chambers also hosted the Legal Eagle, the Independent’s online radio show.
Bass said Chambers was still reporting days before she died. She was 78.