On February 28, 2001, Bernard Shaw stepped back from his daily routine as Cable News Network’s (CNN’s) Principal Anchor, ending his co-anchoring duties on Inside Politics.
Shaw stepped back to write books, including his autobiography; to tend to his garden and, as he puts it, to “give back to my wifely friend Linda her husband, and to our adult daughter and son, their father.” His so doing brings to an end nearly four decades of an illustrious broadcast career.
On January 16, 1991, Shaw was one of three CNN reporters who captivated a worldwide audience of more than one billion with continuous coverage of the first night of the Allied Forces’ bombing of Baghdad during “Operation Desert Storm.” Shaw was in the Iraqi capital to update his exclusive interview with President Saddam Hussein conducted in October 1990.
As a result of that unprecedented coverage, Shaw received numerous international as well as national awards and honors. In July 1991, he received the Eduard Rhein Foundation’s Cultural Journalistic Award, marking the first time that the Foundation presented this award to a non-German. Later that year—in October—the Italian government honored him with its President’s Award, presented to those leaders who have actively contributed to development, innovation, and cooperation. In December, Shaw was the recipient of the coveted 1991 David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication from Barry University (Miami, FL).
As part of CNN’s team to cover the outbreak of the Gulf War, Shaw also received the 1990 George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award for distinguished service and the 1991 Golden Award for Cable Excellence (ACE)—the cable industry’s most prestigious award—from the National Academy of Cable Programming. Shaw personally received the ACE for Best Newscaster of the Year. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented him its 1991 Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Journalistic Excellence in January 1992.
As part of CNN’s team covering the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK—the second-worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, Shaw received the 1996 National Association of Television Arts and Sciences’ News and Documentary Emmy Award for Instant Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story.
In April 1997, Shaw and the CNN team were presented the 1996 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV Interpretation or Documentary on Foreign Affairs by the Overseas Press Club of America for CNN Presents . . . Back to Baghdad.
Shaw’s reporting/anchoring has taken him to 46 countries spanning five continents. He has been elected a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)—the highest distinction the Society gives to journalists for public service. In June 1995, he was inducted into the SPJ Hall of Fame. In October 1996, Shaw received the 1996 Paul White Life Achievement Award from the Radio-Television News Directors’ Association—one of the industry’s most distinguished awards. One month later, he and his co-anchor Judy Woodruff garnered the 1996 ACE for Best Newscaster of the Year for Inside Politics. In April 1997, he was inducted into the Chicago Journalists Hall of Fame. In September 1997, he was the inaugural recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Tex McCrary Award for Journalism, which honors the distinguished achievements of those in the field of journalism. In June 1999, he was named an inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame for having made “signal contributions to those media and industries.” In February 2001, the Anti-Defamation League bestowed upon him its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, presented to “those who have made significant and lasting contributions to the protection and advancement of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.” In March 2001, he was awarded the Pioneer in Broadcasting Award for a lifetime of achievement by the National Association of Blacks in Broadcasting (NABOB). The following month, he was presented the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award by the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University—his idol’s alma mater. In October 2001, he was presented the Douglas Edwards Award by St. Bonaventure University (NY) for a lifetime of journalistic achievement.
In February 2002, DiGamma Kappa honored Shaw with its Distinguished Achievement Award in Broadcasting; DiGamma Kappa is the nation’s oldest professional broadcasting society, founded at the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, home of the Peabody Awards. In May 2002, Shaw was invested as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, the highest honor the state can bestow on persons who were born or have resided in Illinois. He was inducted into the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame in May 2006, joining Oscar® winner Denzel Washington and other noted alumni featured in the best-selling A Hand to Guide Me. In 2007, the National Association of Black Journalists again honored Shaw, saluting him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Among his other honors: the 1997 Candle in Journalism Award from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA; the 1997 Trumpet Award from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.; the 1995 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism from the National Press Foundation; the 1994 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and Telecommunication from Arizona State University; the 1994 Best Newscaster of the Year ACE for Prime News; the 1994 William Allen White Medallion for Distinguished Service from the University of Kansas; the 1994 National Headliner Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews – Miami Region; the 1993 Best Newscaster of the Year ACE for Inside Politics ’92; the 1993 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); the 1992 Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri; and the 1992 Emmy Award—National News and Documentary Competition awarded to CNN. He was also one of the select Alfred M. Landon Lecturers at Kansas State University in 1992.
In 1988, Shaw received the Lowell Thomas Electronic Journalist Award and the ACE for Best News Anchor from the National Academy of Cable Programming.
Shaw anchored much of the network’s special events coverage, including the handover of Hong Kong to China at the stroke of midnight, June 30, 1997, and the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, on August 30, 1997. On January 17, 1994, he was the first correspondent/anchor to break the news of the major earthquake—measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale—in Los Angeles, CA, where he happened to be for another assignment. He was on the air eight minutes after the earthquake struck at 4:31AM (PT).
Shaw also covered major political events, including primaries, party conventions, debates, and national election nights. In October 2000, he moderated the sole vice presidential debate, held at Centre College in Danville, KY. In February 1992, he moderated the third Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, held just two days before the nation’s first presidential primary in Manchester, NH. He was moderator of the second presidential debate held during October 1988 in Los Angeles; he was co-moderator of the April 1988 debate among Democratic presidential candidates on the eve of the New York primary.
In July 1993, Shaw anchored CNN’s live coverage of President Clinton’s first Economic Summit from Tokyo. Covering such summits live was not new to Shaw, who had previously anchored on-site all of the Bush-Gorbachev/Yeltsin Summits—from Helsinki, Malta, and Moscow, to Washington, DC. He also anchored from Red Square in Moscow during the 28th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in July 1990.
In the summer of 1989, Shaw covered President Bush’s first trip to Eastern Europe and then to Paris for the Economic Summit.
Before covering the 40th anniversary NATO Summit in May 1989, in Brussels, Shaw had just finished 30 hours of live coverage of the historic student demonstrations in the heart of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. He brought leading coverage of the events to the United States and around the world with continuous reporting; he fought to extend air time when the Chinese government ordered CNN to discontinue its telecast.
Shaw was one of only two network anchors in China when the demonstrations began, and his work garnered considerable acclaim. He received the 1990 ACE for Best News Anchor and the 1989 National Association of Television Arts and Sciences’ News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story – Anchor. He was awarded the Gold Medal for Best News Anchor at the 32nd annual International Film and TV Festival of New York as well as the Journalist of the Year for 1989 by the National Association of Black Journalists.
CNN received numerous awards for its coverage of China, including the Golden ACE, a Silver Baton from the Alfred I. DuPont – Columbia University Awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, the National Headliner Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Spot News Event by a TV Network, and an Overseas Press Club Award.
Shaw traveled to Japan in February 1989 to anchor CNN’s extensive coverage of Emperor Hirohito’s funeral. He also anchored coverage of the 1988 Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in Moscow. In December 1987, Shaw was one of the four network anchors to interview President Reagan on the eve of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Summit in Washington, DC; he anchored coverage of that summit as well. He also covered their superpower summit in Geneva in 1985.
Shaw was a member of the CNN anchor team from the network’s inception in 1980. Previously, he was with ABC News as Senior Capitol Hill Correspondent, reporting extensively on the economy. Shaw also filed special reports during the 1979 hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran. His first assignment with ABC News was as Latin American correspondent and bureau chief. In that capacity, he was one of the first reporters to file a story from Guyana on the mass suicides at Jonestown and covered the overthrow of General Somoza in Nicaragua.
From 1971 to 1977, Shaw was a correspondent in the Washington Bureau of CBS News. A journalistic coup during that period was his exclusive interview with Attorney General John Mitchell at the height of the Watergate crisis.
Before joining CBS News, Shaw served as a reporter for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company’s Group W, based first in Chicago, and later in Washington, as White House correspondent. He began his career in 1964 as an anchor/reporter for WNUS-Chicago, one of the nation’s first all-news radio stations.
Shaw studied history at the University of Illinois. On April 27, 1991, the University of Illinois Foundation announced the establishment of the Bernard Shaw Endowment Fund, creating scholarships at the University’s Chicago campus in his honor. Shaw has personally contributed more than $300,000 to the Fund—his way of “giving back” some of what has been given to him. The unrestricted grants are awarded annually to qualified students needing financial aid, with preference given to minority and women liberal arts majors who best represent those values and interests exemplified by Shaw. In May 1993, the University awarded Shaw an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his outstanding contributions and endeavors. He also holds honorary doctorates from Northeastern University in Boston, MA (1994), and Francis Marion College in Florence, SC (1985).
A Chicago native, Shaw and his wife Linda reside in Takoma Park, MD.
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