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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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African-American Weekly Profile

February is Black History Month and in commemoration, each week The Mass Media will present a profile on a leader in the black community who has had some significance to Boston.

February is Black History Month and in commemoration each week, The the Mass Media will present a profile of a leader in the black community that has made some social or political change for the African-American community in Boston. This week’s profile is of Sarah Ann Shaw, the first African-American news reporter for WBZ-TV, and an advocate for the African-American community in Boston.

Raised in Boston, historically a racially-charged city, Ms. Shaw experienced racial prejudice firsthand and subsequently became very active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. She became a harsh critic of the media in Boston and around the country for their “bias” against black issues of the day, and this eventually led to her position as the first African-American reporter for WBZ-TV.

Her career with WBZ-TV garnered her respect throughout local news communities across New England, and Ms. Shaw has been described as the “conscience of the WBZ newsroom.” One of the defining moments of Ms. Shaw’s tenure at WBZ was the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. This heinous act sent shockwaves through Black communities all over the country, and many local news outlets sought to more heavily cover African-American-centered stories. WBZ-TV used Ms. Shaw’s connections the community in order to capitalize on this demand. In addition, she drummed up support for more African-American reporters in local newsrooms. Ms. Shaw wanted people to get fair, unbiased news reporting and worked hard to keep prejudice, intolerance and discrimination out of Greater Boston’s local news.

Sarah Ann Shaw retired from WBZ-TV in 2000. She is still very involved with race relation issues, organizing voter drives, anti-poverty campaigns and educational workshops for low-skilled workers. She is the president of the Black Coalition for Women, a black women’s civil rights advocacy group, and the 80-year-old League of Women for Community Service. She is a volunteer in the Boston Public Schools with the Boston Partners in Education, and has a long-standing association with Action for Black Community Development, a non-profit organization that helps provide education and trade skills for low-income people.

Recognized for all her community work, Sarah Ann Shaw has been awarded many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the ABCD, a Yankee Quill Award from the New England Society of Newspaper Editors and, recently, the Amanda V. Houston Community Service Award from Boston College. She has also been honored with lifetime and achievement awards from the National Association of Black Journalism, and the Boston chapter of the Radio-Television News Directors’ Association.