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Then & Now: Bernard Shaw
Now: Bernard Shaw, retired from CNN, works on his golf game and writing projects.




Bernard Shaw

(CNN) -- As an original anchor for CNN, Bernard Shaw was a witness to the birth of the 24-hour news network. Today, Shaw is retired from broadcasting and is working on a book and other writing projects.

After signing with CNN on June 1, 1980, Shaw covered some of the biggest stories of the past decades, providing live coverage of the student demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles, the funeral of Princess Diana, President Clinton's impeachment trial and the 2000 U.S. election.

The former U.S. Marine may be best known, however, for making television history as one of the "Boys of Baghdad."

In January 1991, Shaw stayed behind -- with Peter Arnett and the late John Holliman -- after other Western reporters had deserted the city. As bombs rained down on the city outside their hotel window, the three, reporting by phone, coolly brought those images into living rooms across the world during the first attacks of the Persian Gulf War.

"All kinds of ordnance was being dropped, all kinds of bombs, and I made my peace with myself that I could die at any moment," Shaw told CNN recently. "We knew the dangers around us. I always believed that two major forces -- one of them supreme -- saved us that night: God and some extremely well trained and well disciplined American pilots."

But Shaw says the most important story he covered was not the Gulf War, but the 1985 Geneva summit between President Reagan and the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev.

"When these two leaders met in Geneva, they began the process that led to so many important treaties and the beginning of disarmament (which we don't have now)," he explained. "But these two men meeting as they did at that summit was, in my judgment, the most important story I ever covered; important to the human race, important to all the occupants of this planet."

Throughout his career, Shaw -- a history major in college -- was often an eyewitness to some of the biggest events of the last quarter-century, a position he did not take lightly.

"Whenever I found myself with a box seat on a historic story, the one thing I always strove to do was realize I had a responsibility ... It made me focus even more on the disciplines of journalism -- being fair, being accurate."

"[You also need to have] regard for viewers, listeners and readers," he continued. "If people are depending on you, if you are the only source of accurate information, you have a dreadful responsibility. I say dreadful because it's so awesome."

In 2001, at the age of 60, Bernard Shaw decided to retire from CNN. He now spends time with his wife, Linda, and two children.

"We've been enjoying doing the things we couldn't do when I was chasing around the country and around the world covering news."

The many historic events he witnessed firsthand during his career would fill a book -- and that is exactly what Shaw is now working on. Besides an autobiography, Shaw has said that he wants to write fiction, a book of essays and a journalism primer.

Occasionally, he still makes an appearance on the network. In May 2005, for example, when a small plane flew near the White House and buildings were evacuated, Shaw called in to CNN to give a report. From his home in the Maryland suburbs, he'd seen two F-16 jets circling a single-engine plane and firing warning flares.

Shaw says he misses his colleagues, but he does not miss working.

"I do not miss being on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "I never worked as hard in my life as I did at CNN, but I never enjoyed broadcast journalism more. I have no regrets."

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