Reporter Cohen Who Helped ‘Boston Globe’ Win Pulitzer Dies at 86

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Muriel Cohen, whose reporting and vast contacts helped The Boston Globe win the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1975, has died of cancer, family and former colleagues said. She was 86.

Cohen died Tuesday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Cohen, who worked as an education reporter at the Globe for 20 years and contributed freelance articles after she had retired, was known to possess the most extensive Rolodex of any reporter covering the Boston school district. The access helped the paper during its coverage of school desegregation, for which it won the Pulitzer Prize.

“Muriel was the uber-reporter on all of it,” said Stephen Kurkjian, a senior assistant metro editor at the Globe. “She was the big foot, both on the writing and the impact of the daily stories.”

Al Larkin, the Globe’s executive vice president, said Cohen liked being in the fray.

“If you were a young reporter covering this for the first time, you went and asked Muriel, because that’s where you got your compass settings on where to go,” Larkin said.

Cohen was born Muriel Libin in Chelsea to Russian immigrants. She graduated from Simmons College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

In 1945, she married Paul Cohen, who died in 1996 several months after their 50th wedding anniversary.

Before being hired by the Globe in 1972, Cohen worked as a Boston Herald Traveler reporter.

“As I recall, one of the reasons the Globe was interested in her was that she used to scoop them so much,” said her daughter Elaine, of New York City.

Cohen also is survived by a son, Ira of Tampa, Fla.; another daughter, Lea of Brookline; a grandson and a brother, George Libin of Wellesley.

Services were planned for Thursday.

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