Television Newscasters

Who was the first black person to anchor at Cable News Network (CNN)?

Bernard Shaw (1940–) was appointed chief Washington correspondent and became the first black anchor at Cable News Network (CNN), in 1980. In 1987 Shaw joined the major television networks in a nationally televised interview with President Ronald Reagan. The next year he moderated the second presidential debate in Los Angeles. Born in Chicago, Shaw attended the University of Illinois-Chicago. He received an early push toward a career in news when his father routinely brought four Chicago daily newspapers with him every day when he returned home from work. Edward R. Murrow, whose reporting was prominent on CBS, became his role model, and Shaw decided to become a broadcaster. He bought the New York Times regularly, visited Chicago commentator Clifton Utley, and frequented newsrooms as he sought to become familiar with the profession. Shaw was in the U.S. Marine Corps and stationed in Hawaii in 1961 when, after repeated attempts, he was able to get an appointment with Walter Cronkite to talk about a news career. The persistence shown by Shaw in his preparations came to be noted as one of the characteristics of his approach to reporting. While attending college after leaving the service, he worked without pay in the wire room of a Chicago radio station and became a paid reporter for the station when its format was changed to all-news. Before joining CNN, Shaw worked at other stations, both radio and television, until he decided to leave college when he was offered a job as White House correspondent for WIND in Washington, D.C., a position he held from 1968 to 1971. He worked for CBS for the next three years, and in Miami for ABC, from 1974 until 1979, as chief of the Latin American bureau. His move to CNN the next year resulted in the position he held until his retirement on February 28, 2001. During his tenure at CNN, Shaw was able to break a number of important news stories, including almost a full day’s continuous coverage on the Persian Gulf War. Shaw’s work has resulted in numerous awards, including an Emmy in 1989 in the News and Documentaries category, the Award for Cable Excellence as best news anchor in 1990, and the Cable Ace Award from the National Academy of Cable Programming for best newscaster of the year in 1991.


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