Boston News Pioneer Sarah-Ann Shaw Dies at 90

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From GBH – By Macy Lipkin, Matt Baskin

Sarah-Ann Shaw, the first Black woman television reporter in the Boston area, has died. She was 90 years old.

A Boston native, Shaw grew up in Roxbury.

Her passing was first reported by WBZ-TV, the outlet she worked for from 1969 until her retirement in 2000.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sarah-Ann Shaw, the first Black reporter at WBZ Boston. Her pioneering spirit, dedication to journalism, and commitment to amplifying marginalized voices have left an indelible mark on our industry and community,” WBZ President and General Manager Justin Draper said in a statement. “Sarah-Ann’s fearless pursuit of truth and unwavering advocacy for social justice set a standard for excellence that will continue to inspire generations to come. Our thoughts are with her loved ones during this difficult time, and we honor her legacy.”

In 1968, Shaw was part of the team behind GBH’s Say Brother, now named Basic Black. The program was created in response to the demand for public television programs reflecting the concerns of communities of color during the Civil Rights Movement.

In 2018, Shaw returned for the 50th anniversary episode alongside other former hosts, guests and then-host Callie Crossley.

“It’s very, very important that Say Brother did shows and expose people in the community about different areas — police brutality, education — that they could not really get from other sources,” Shaw said during that anniversary episode…

Marita Rivero, a former producer and manager at GBH, said Shaw was a true leader.

“She helped us think about the environments we were living in, she helped us understand our community, helped us develop a sense of obligation toward that community and toward our craft,” Rivero said. “She was just a terrific mentor.”

Shaw’s mentees remember her as someone who paved the way for Black female journalists in Boston.

“I think a lot of us would’ve taken much longer to get where we are if it hadn’t been for her. She was a door opener,” Rivero said.

Local journalist Carmen Fields remembers Shaw as both a mentor and friend. The two first met while Fields was working in Jefferson City, Missouri.

“I got in touch when I came to Boston, and she proved to be just the very best journalistic resource and personal friend that I’ve ever had. She was just an extraordinarily giving and caring human being,” said Fields.

That care extended beyond the newsroom, Fields added.

“When my mother came to visit from Tulsa, [Shaw] would always invite us to dinner where she cooked. I mean, that’s how close and how giving she was,” Fields said.

  • Read the tribute at GBH


  1. Aimee Sands on March 25, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    I reported on local news with Sarah Ann Shaw in the 1970’s and 80’s when I worked for GBH Journal on Radio, and the 10 O’Clock News on TV. I was new and young (and white) and she was incredibly kind and supportive to me. Is there any more information about where and when she died? How were her last years? Is or was there a memorial?
    Thank you – Aimée Sands

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