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Former broadcast journalist and the first anchor for CNN, Bernard Shaw passed away at the age of 82. Photo: Ed Lallo/Getty Images
Former broadcast journalist and the first anchor for CNN, Bernard Shaw passed away at the age of 82. Photo: Ed Lallo/Getty Images

Bernard Shaw, CNN’s first anchor, dies at 82

Shaw was the first anchor for the network when it was launched on June 1, 1980, and remained with the network for over 20 years before retiring.

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Bernard Shaw, a trailblazing Black journalist and CNN’s first chief anchor, has died at the age of 82. 

CNN, the network in which he worked for over 20 years, reported that he died at a hospital of pneumonia, unrelated to COVID-19.

On June 1, 1980, when the first CNN broadcast was aired, Shaw was the first face shown on the TV screen.

During his career with the network, he reported on some of the biggest stories of the world for nearly 21 years, including the student revolt in Tiananmen Square in May 1989, the First Gulf War in Baghdad in 1991, the death of Princess Diana in 1997, and the 1988 and 2000 presidential election, before retiring from CNN on Feb. 28, 2001.

“Even after he left CNN, Bernie remained a close member of our CNN family providing our viewers with context about historic events as recently as last year. The condolences of all of us at CNN go out to his wife Linda and his children," said Chris Licht, CNN Chairman and CEO, in a statement. 

Shaw was born on May 22, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, to parents Edgar and Camilla Shaw.

A former member of the military, after attending the University of Illinois at Chicago, he spent four years in the Marine Corps, where he was stationed in Hawaii. 

It was there that he developed an interest in media and journalism, later seeking out TV news legend Walter Cronkite for advice on how to become a journalist.

Shaw got his start in the industry as a radio reporter in Chicago, before earning his first job in TV as a political reporter and White House correspondent for CBS, helping cover the Watergate scandal. 

From 1971 to 1977, he worked at ABC News, where he would become ABC’s Latin America correspondent and bureau chief, and then Capital Hill Senior Correspondent.

In 1980, he would leave ABC to take a job with the newly launched Cable News Network (CNN), the world’s first 24-hour television news network. At the time, there were no other Black lead anchors on the air. 

As anchor of its PrimeNews and later Inside Politics broadcast, he became widely respected nationwide for delivering important news stories with a calm demeanor.

In November 2000, Shaw announced that he would be stepping back at CNN to spend time with his family, and write books. He anchored his final broadcast over two months later. 

During his career, Shaw would receive two Lifetime Achievement Awards — from the Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2001 and the National Association of Black Journalists in 2007, respectively — and was also inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 1999. Shaw also received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism in 1994. 

When news of Shaw’s passing broke, many in the industry paid their respects, including current CNN correspondent, Don Lemon.

Funeral services for Shaw, who is survived by his wife Linda, and their two children, Amar and Anil, will be closed to family and invited guests only, with a public memorial service planned for a later time. 

In a statement, the Shaw family requested that in lieu of flowers, to make donations to the Bernard Shaw Scholarship Fund at the University of Chicago.

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