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Bernard Shaw Reports From Beijing

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The world of news journalism is mourning the loss of former CNN lead anchor Bernard Shaw, one of the first notable Black media personalities in the field, who has passed away. He was 82.

Shaw’s family confirmed the news of his death to the press. The former anchor passed away due to pneumonia unrelated to COVID-19 on Wednesday (September 7th) at a hospital in Washington D.C., according to a friend and former chief executive at CNN, Tom Johnson. In the statement from his family, they stated that a funeral will be held for members of the family and invited guests with a public memorial service to be announced at a later date. “In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Bernard Shaw Scholarship Fund at the University of Chicago,” Shaw’s family stated. “The Shaw family requests complete privacy at this time.”

Shaw was best known to many as the face of CNN – he was its first chief anchor when the network launched on June 1st, 1980. His tempered manner and dedicated professionalism were always on display as he covered many landmark stories during his tenure, which included the assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and the now-iconic moment where he remained cool while covering the beginning of the Persian Gulf War from a hotel room in Baghdad, Iraq on January 16th, 1991. Other notable moments include Shaw’s moderating the 1988 Presidential debate between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, in which his first question to the Democratic candidate Dukakis caused a stir.

The anchor, who also reported for ABC News, remained at CNN until his retirement at the age of 61 shortly after the 2000 Presidential Election. Shaw received lifetime honors from the Edward R. Murrow Awards (2001) and the National Association of Black Journalists (2007) and was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 1999.

Shaw was memorialized by many journalists and media outlets on Twitter after the news of his passing was reported. CNN political analyst and White House correspondent April D. Ryan remembered Shaw with a photo of the two together, simply writing: “Sad news to hear Bernard Shaw has passed! It was so wonderful to see him listen to jazz around DC after his @CNN show. RIP Sir!”

Associate editor and columnist with the Boston Globe, Renee Graham shared an anecdote about Shaw’s

life involving the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

CNN Chief National Correspondent John King posted a poignant tribute to Shaw on Twitter: