The journalism world suffered a great loss Sunday when Michael J. Feeney, a veteran journalist who was set to start his dream job as an entertainment reporter at CNN.com, died of complications from a staph infection in his kidneys. He was 32.
“Mike did everything to help everyone,” his mother, Reba Willis, told the New York Daily News, where Feeney last worked, on Sunday. “He did whatever he could with any person who he came across who wanted to know anything about journalism and about life.”
According to the Daily News, Feeney fell ill last week and checked into the Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J., Tuesday. His mother told the Daily News that he went into cardiac arrest around 1:15 p.m. Sunday.
Feeney grew up in Teaneck, graduated from Delaware State University in 2005 and worked for the Associated Press and The Record in New Jersey. In 2009 he joined the News, where he quickly established himself as a journalist on the rise. He was named the emerging journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2010 and became the organization’s New York chapter president in 2011.
“He was a dedicated leader of the organization and an outstanding journalist,” Julie Walker, the group’s current president, told the Daily News.
His death shocked many of those who knew him personally or read his work.
“Just heard that Michael Feeney, young dynamic journalist died,” tweeted the Rev. Al Sharpton. “A good brother and fine journalist. Sad news, RIP Michael.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted: “Journalist. Leader. Rising Star.”
“It’s going to be a hard pill to swallow for everyone,” Willis told the Daily News. “He had so much more to accomplish. He is truly going to be missed.”
Feeney is survived by his mother, “a sister, Maria Feeney; a twin brother, Anthony Feeney; a niece, and a nephew,” the Daily News reports.