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Teen has 'Inside Look' at news show


Look out, Barbara Walters -- you could have some competition.

Titia Shelton, a 17-year-old Ellicott City resident, is one of four teens who produce, edit and write a 30-minute cable television news show called "Inside Look."

Shown daily on Howard County's Cable 8, the program features investigative reports and spotlights high school athletes and sports teams.

"I like the fact that I can interview people," said Titia, a Mount Hebron senior. "Howard County is so multicultural, and I get a wide range of answers. I enjoy it a lot."

Titia, who moved to Howard County in ninth grade after attending Maryvale Preparatory School for Girls in Green Spring Valley, became interested in journalism after finding she had a knack for writing and public speaking.

At Mount Hebron, she regularly sings and dances at school talent shows and Black History Month assemblies. This year, she co-produced the Black History Month assembly and recited a poem.

She enjoys writing poetry about issues close to her heart, such as the future of black male teens and teen pregnancy. She hopes to compile a book of her poems this year.

"I just look at reality, and I write about it from a teen-ager's perspective," she said.

Titia said she owes her success to hard work and encouragement from her family and friends.

"My parents keep me motivated, and most of my friends have similar goals," Titia said.

She also is inspired by "20/20," a weekly TV news program that features hosts Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs.

"I just love that show," said Titia, who enjoys the issues the program explores and hopes to get a job there one day.

In September, she began pursuing her career goals when she landed an internship at Cable 8 under a countywide mentorship program for high school students.

Now she spends at least six hours a week at Cable 8, where she has learned to operate a TelePrompTer, edit segments and deliver news to viewers.

"It's not so easy to sit there and read the lines," she said. "You can't be too melodramatic because you look like you're acting. You can't be monotone. You have to find a medium [tone] to make it interesting."

During the last show, Titia served as executive producer, coordinating all segments, organizing editing meetings and writing scripts.

"It's really interesting to learn how to edit and make one nice broadcast piece," she said.

She also learned how to gather the right amount of material for a story.

"You don't want all funny or all serious [anecdotes]," Titia said. "You have to have a variety."

One of her most enjoyable reporting assignments was interviewing teachers and students about their New Year resolutions.

"People said such ridiculous things," said Titia, recalling one student's desire to win a state lottery and purchase a red Corvette. "It was so funny to hear their answers."

The young woman has impressed those around her.

"I have the impression she'll do whatever she sets her mind to," said television producer Michael Dubbs, her mentor. "She's a very determined young woman."

"She has just a wonderful inner calm," said Dr. Sara Parrott, Mount Hebron's gifted and talented resource teacher. "She has excellent presentation skills."

Titia maintains a 3.66 grade point average for courses that include biology, English and Spanish.

To supplement her Spanish studies, she spent two weeks last summer in a city outside Madrid. Speaking Spanish continually and learning about Spanish culture was an experience that will benefit her for years to come, she said.

"I think that will prepare me for college because that will be another cultural shock," she said, laughing.

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