OLD Media Moves

Remembering Ray Shaw

July 19, 2009

Ray Shaw, the chairman of American City Business Journals who died suddenly Sunday at  the age of 75, reminded me of one of my grandfathers.

He had a gruff exterior, but inside he was all heart. And he was the guiding person behind the success of one of the largest employers of business journalists in the country.

I met Shaw for the first time five years ago, stopping by the company’s Charlotte headquarters to give him a quick primer about the business journalism program at UNC-Chapel Hill that was getting off the ground. He sat and listened as I nervously went through a Power Point presentation.

Shaw quickly interrupted me when I began talking about teaching students how to find information about private companies. He liked that a lot. You could tell he still had some reporter in him even though he hadn’t written a story in 40 years.

We talked once or twice a year after that, talking about the world of business journalism. (See an interview I did with him back in 2005.) I always admired how he was able to keep on top of everything going on at the 40 papers he oversaw, and I respected his opinion.

The thing that I admired the most, however, was that Shaw did a number of things behind the scenes in business journalism that he did not want any credit for. He gave money freely to causes he believed in. He came to talk to one of my UNC classes twice about The Wall Street Journal under Barney Kilgore.

Last October, when I attended the internal ACBJ awards dinner in Charlotte, Shaw joked with me about beating his reporters in covering the news of the closure of the chain’s East Bay Business Journal in California. I told him I had good sources. He quipped that he was checking the company’s internal e-mails and phone lines to see whom had told me. He was joking — I think.

My last memory of Shaw was at the SABEW conference in Denver in April, where he received the organization’s Distinguished Achievement Award. He asked me to sit at his table, next to him. I was the only non-American City employee at the table.

That was the kind of person he was. He made me feel special when I was around him.

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