The L.A. Times media critic died last night at age 62 of complications from a brain tumor that had been discovered only this May. Since I probably heaped more abuse on him than anyone—I found him to be the embodiment of much I disagreed with in media criticism and newspaper journalism—the least I can do is pay tribute to how he also embodied the best of both crafts: Most spectacularly, by painstakingly dissecting the hysterical and damaging media coverage of the McMartin pre-school child-abuse/Satanism trial, for which he won a much-deserved Pulitzer. Shaw would take forever to report a story, and write multi-part series longer than some Tolkein books, but as William Powers recently observed, the results often changed the way we understood journalism (by, for example, demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt the overwhelming biases in newspaper reporting on the abortion debate). Plus, he was a Compton boy who wrote a book about Wilt Chamberlain, which I am happy to own.
LAT obit here.