Shaw attended the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a degree in journalism while participating in the university's radio station, and began working at WKY Radio in 1976. There, she was a news presenter until being laid off when the station switched to FM format; however, at that time, the WKY-TV station was located in the same building, and she began working there instead.
After seven years at WKY-TV, during which she was only given shifts on weekends, Shaw concluded that WKY offered her no chance for career advancement, and applied to the then-nascent Cable News Network, on the grounds that "Ted Turner was hiring a lot of people from Oklahoma". Shaw's first day at CNN was July 12, 1984; although she had not been scheduled to appear on-camera that day, the regular news presenter was temporarily unavailable, and Shaw was chosen to report the news that Walter Mondale had selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate for the 1984 presidential election.
In 1989, she became the co-host of CNN's Showbiz Today, replacing Bill Tush; however, in 1993, CNN chose not to renew her contract, replacing her on Showbiz Today with Jim Moret, which Variety attributed to Moret being perceived as "more serious" than Shaw.
- "From the Farm Show…To CNN" - Bella Shaw Archived March 27, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., in Élite Magazine; published November 27, 2012; retrieved March 18, 2016
- Anchorwoman stays current: Former CNN anchor Bella Shaw evolves with new media landscape, by Michele E. Buttelman; in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal; published August 26, 2012; retrieved March 18, 2016
- Shaw has come a long distance, by Glen Phillips, in the Oklahoman; published March 10, 1985; retrieved March 18, 2016
- Cnn Remakes Its `Showbiz`, in the Chicago Tribune; published October 11, 1989; retrieved March 18, 2016
- CNN lets news anchor go, in the Dispatch; published February 25, 1993; retrieved March 18, 2016 (via Google News Archive)
- Shaw’s out, Moret’s in on CNN’S ‘Showbiz’, in Variety; published February 23, 1993; retrieved March 18, 2016