Carmel Cafiero Obituary: Trailblazing WSVN-TV Investigative Reporter

Carmel Cafiero Obituary

The world of journalism in South Florida, particularly at WSVN-TV Channel 7, is feeling the weight of an immense loss. Carmel Cafiero, an investigative journalist whose impactful 43-year tenure set a gold standard for reporting, has left us but leaves behind a lasting legacy.

Known for her unflinching determination, meticulous attention to detail, and hard-hitting questions, Carmel Cafiero was a tour de force in South Florida’s journalistic landscape. Her unyielding quest for the truth and holding authority figures to account were distinguishing features of her storied career.

Carmel Cafiero Obituary: Trailblazing WSVN-TV Investigative Reporter
Carmel Cafiero Obituary: Trailblazing WSVN-TV Investigative Reporter

In one memorable investigation, Cafiero unflinchingly asked, “How can you justify giving out a million oxycodone pills?” She was often in hot pursuit, refusing to let her subjects avoid accountability. “Mr. Rodriguez, where are you going? Wait, mister,” she’d insist.

Born in the rich cultural milieu of New Orleans, Carmel broke into the broadcasting world via radio, later pioneering as the first female anchor for an evening newscast at WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge. She broke further ground upon joining Channel 7 in 1973—then WCKT—becoming its inaugural female reporter in a male-dominated newsroom.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle commented on her groundbreaking journey: “She wasn’t just breaking stories; she was shattering glass ceilings through her exceptional professionalism.”

Cafiero’s fearless reporting spanned an array of critical societal issues. One of her early exposés involved going undercover to unmask fraudulent doctors and clinic workers. In another, her relentless pursuit of the truth brought to light the sale of unsafe products, like contaminated pet food and defective construction materials.

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She was particularly instrumental in shedding light on South Florida’s opioid crisis, her efforts leading to prosecutions and garnering her the esteemed Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award. “The prescription drug monitoring program passed because of the media attention Carmel brought to the problem,” observed Al Lamberti, former Broward County Sheriff.

Her commitment to journalism was all-encompassing. She took on issues ranging from the tragedies of young teens overdosing outside a Pompano Beach club to investigating fraudulent psychics deceiving the public. Even in the aftermath of national crises like the 9/11 attacks, Cafiero’s reporting took us inside the worlds we could only imagine.

Her global reach saw her confronting former Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Gersten in Australia and interviewing Francesco Schettino, the infamous captain behind one of history’s worst cruise ship disasters, in Italy.

Cafiero’s compassion also shone through, especially when she helped mobilize the community to aid Selma Shapiro, an elderly woman living in a rat-infested home. “I thought no one cared about me, but I found out differently,” Shapiro told Carmel.

Over her four-decade-long career, Carmel Cafiero remained unyielding in her pursuit of truth, becoming an indelible figure in South Florida journalism. She leaves behind a legacy that will forever inspire aspiring journalists and investigators alike.

She is survived by her loving husband Bob, her devoted daughter Courtney, and her cherished granddaughters Mariah and Melanie. The world may have lost an extraordinary reporter, but her influence will forever be imprinted on the hearts and minds of those who valued the essence of ethical journalism.

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