Bernard Shaw, CNN’s chief announcer for 20 years, has died at the age of 82

The network’s president confirmed in a statement that Bernard Shaw, an award-winning television journalist who served as CNN’s main broadcaster for two decades, died Wednesday.

He was 82 years old.

Shaw was CNN’s first major anchor when the 24/7 news channel was launched June 1, 1980immediately set a standard of consummate professionalism and soon gained the trust of millions of viewers.

In a statement to CNN, Shaw’s family said a funeral service will be held for family members and invited guests, with a public memorial service planned for later.

They said, “The Xu family requests complete privacy at this time.”

Chris Licht, CNN Chairman and CEO, expressed his condolences to Shaw’s wife, Linda, and their children, Writing in a statement: “Bernie was original on CNN.”

“Even after leaving CNN, Bernie remained a close member of the CNN family, providing our viewers with context on the historical events that occurred as recently as last year,” Licht said.

Xu has covered some of the notable stories of the past three decades, including the student uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the California earthquake in 1994, the death of Princess Diana in 1997, and the 2000 presidential race.

He was nicknamed one of the “Baghdad Boys,” a group of reporters who chronicled the beginning of the Gulf War that began on January 16, 1991, from a hotel room in Iraq alongside colleagues Peter Arnett and John Holliman, according to The Biography on CNN’s website.

He was widely respected for presenting important news stories with calm authority and charisma. In a tribute on social media Thursday, current and former CNN personalities praised him as a pioneer and an inspiration to other journalists.

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Shaw was inducted into the Radio and Cable Hall of Fame (1999) and received two lifetime achievement honors, from the Edward R. Morrow Awards (2001) and the National Association of Black Journalists (2007).

Bernard Shaw was born on May 22, 1940 in Chicago to Edgar Shaw, a railroad employee and house painter, and Camilla (Murphy) Shaw, a housekeeper.

He aspired to a career in journalism at a young age. He was an avid reader of newspapers and admired the famous news anchor and World War II correspondent Edward R. Moreau.

He attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, earning a bachelor’s degree in history in 1966. He also served in the United States Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963, according to his CNN biography.

Shaw’s professional career in journalism began as a political correspondent for CBS from 1971 to 1977. He then moved to ABC, where he worked as a correspondent in Latin America from 1977 to 1979.

But the most important chapter in his career began the following year when he headed to Cable News Network, the nation’s first 24-hour news channel. CNN, as it became known, helped radically change the look and pace of television news.

Shaw has been at the forefront of this historic change in the media industry, delivering news headlines at a speed traditionally not available to presenters of 30-minute news programmes.

He made a special impression on viewers as an announcer on election nights and other major political events. He moderated the second presidential debate between George HW Bush and Michael Dukakis in the run-up to the 1988 general election.

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Shaw raised eyebrows with his first question to Dukakis, who was then the Democratic governor of Massachusetts. Shaw asked Dukakis if he would prefer the death penalty for someone who hypothetically “raped and killed” his wife, Kitty.

The governor seemed surprised by the frank question, and his wife later called the question “outrageous.” He says to a reporter: “It was theatrical and inappropriate.”

Political analysts believe the Democratic candidate’s seemingly unemotional response helped kill his White House campaign.

However, many political analysts have credited Shaw with his performance as director, and his admirers have seen him as an example of what the Museum of Broadcasting calls his “reputation for asking tough questions” of people in power.

Three days after voters headed to the polls for the 2000 presidential race, Shaw announced he was leaving CNN. He officially retired from the company the following year, on February 28, 2001, according to his network bio.

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