An award for a pioneer and a salute to children's television programming
She is the pioneering journalist who created Nick News with Linda Ellerbee for Nickelodeon in 1991. Before that, she had a long career at NBC and also at ABC. A singularly independent-minded person, Ellerbee has won many awards during her career. You may remember her as the anchor for NBC News Overnight and also as the anchor for the ABC series Our World. What sets Ellerbee apart is her writing style and her confident delivery. Always clear and direct, she has the ability to present the essential core of issues. Many in network television considered her irreverent. You may remember her signature sign-off on News Overnight. She always closed the broadcast with this: "....and so it goes."
In many ways, Ellerbee has maintained a child-like curiosity about the world. This served her well when she started her Lucky Duck Productions company and proposed a news program for children. Always a hands-on manager, she serves as executive producer, writer and anchor of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee. It is the longest running children's news programming in North American television history.
The show has won every major television and journalism award usually associated with adult programs.
In September, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) will be handing Ellerbee it's highest award for "a lifetime of hard work and leadership," as the awards chairperson says in a press release. (The RTDNA is the largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism.)
Nick News is not afraid to present topics that are difficult for children, like the Afghan war, AIDS or gang crime in big cities; but it does so with a sensitivity and understanding of its audience that is very special.
In our rapidly-changing, complex world, it's important that children are not only entertained, but also informed about issues in the news. As Ellerbee points out, kids "just can't escape the world." Children have questions about what they see and hear in the media. The challenging topics in the news need to be explained and presented in a way they can understand and also in a way that takes into account their emotions and psychological development.
I applaud Ellerbee's achievements. Let's not forget that we depend on today's children to provide better solutions for tomorrow.
Nick News is only available on the Nickelodeon network. If you'd like to get a sense of Ellerbee's writing and some of the topics the show covers, take a look at the Nick News web site.
You can see several profiles of Linda Ellerbee on YouTube. Ellerbee is an outspoken cancer survivor and also an author of several books. I found this one interesting, even though it precedes her work on children's television. A more recent interview is here.
For those of you who were around in the 1970s and the '80s, you may recall that CBS used to present news information for children on Saturday mornings. The CBS segments were also outstanding examples of explanatory news writing. Do you remember "In the News" ?