NYDN reporter Michael J. Feeney won the Emerging Artist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. He stands at the scene of a homicide he was covering for the paper in Flatbush, Brooklyn.   Original Filename: IMG_8491.JPG

Michael Feeney (Facebook Photo)

President Obama, the Rev. Al Sharpton and hundreds of other supporters and well-wishers this week mourned the death of a rising Black star in journalism, Michael Feeney. The 32-year-old reporter died Jan. 31 from a staph infection in his kidneys at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of your son, Michael,” the president said in a letter to Feeney’s mother, Reba Willis, the New York Daily News reported. “My heartfelt condolences are with you as you reflect upon his life…. Please know you are in my thoughts.”

Hundreds of journalists, and other community leaders also gathered at two funerals held in Feeney’s honor: one in New York and one in New Jersey, according to Feeney’s Twitter account.

After hearing of Feeney’s death Rev. Al Sharpton posted a tweet mourning him: “Just heard that Michael Feeney, young dynamic journalist died this morning. A good brother and fine journalist. Sad news, RIP Michael.”

The civil rights activist and MSNBC host also spoke at Feeney’s funeral on Monday. “Michael lived and left a proud legacy and never forgot who he was,” Rev. Sharpton told mourners at Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church, according to the Daily News. “And whatever byline he had, it wasn’t the story of his life.”

Feeney graduated from Teaneck High School in New Jersey with the Mal Goode Journalism Scholarship. He then went on to attend the historically Black Delaware State University (DSU), where he later became a member of the Gamma Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

According to the National Association of Black Journalists, Feeney also attended the intensive Knight Media Journalism internship workshop at the University of California-Berkley to strengthen his skills.

Upon graduation from DSU in 2005, Feeney received the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership then landed his first job at the Associated Press’ Detroit bureau, according to The Amsterdam News.

After moving back Northeast in 2006, Feeney worked at The Record in New Jersey.  In 2009, Feeney joined the staff of the Daily News and became known for his exclusive interviews with celebrities such as Jay-Z, Drake and Rihanna.

His budding reputation in the field earned him the designation of the Emerging Journalist of the Year by the NABJ in 2010. And, according to The Amsterdam News, after receiving this award Feeney went on a speaking tour that took him to several Black college campuses.

After leaving the Daily News in 2014, Feeney went on to work as a freelance reporter for Ebony magazine, NBC News, The Record and The Grio.com, and covered the April 2015 unrest in Baltimore, according to Black Enterprise. 

Before Feeney died he accepted a position as an entertainment reporter for CNN, according to CNN.

Feeney served as president of the New York Association of Black Journalists from 2011 to December 2015 and was a keen advocate for diversity in newsrooms throughout his career.

After his death, a memorial fund was created on YouCaring.com, raising more than $25,000.