Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee

Spring 2013 Television
Ages: 6 - 14 yrs.
Producer: Nickelodeon
Rating: TV PG

While the media industry undergoes a major change into the digital era, and news outlets struggle to survive, Linda Ellerbee and her Nick News are still going strong. That's because it's a winning formula. In each episode, Ellerbee, 68, puts on her orange high-tops, sits on a stool, and, in her wonderfully calm voice, informs teens and tweens about real-life situations in the world.

It's not news that features a wacky video of a kitten getting stuck in a jar. It isn't divided into traditional categories such as Sports, Entertainment and Lifestyle. Instead, each episode offers a documentary feel, tackling a specific question or telling a story, delving into a newsy topic to explore all angles of the issue. Each focuses on kids.

A recent example is the episode "Forgotten But Not Gone: Kids, HIV & AIDS." Ellerbee points out that Ryan White broke ground in the 1980s when he was expelled from middle school because families didn't want their children going to school with a kid who was HIV positive. Now, HIV-positive kids go to school with other kids and talk about what they've had to cope with in order to survive and thrive.

"I was frightened. I thought I was dirty. I was really scared and ashamed of myself," says one child.

It's one thing to hear about a kid who has AIDS. It's another to see that teen talking about how it felt being bullied and how important is it to inspire compassion and understanding from peers, friends and family. The 22-minute Nick News segment winds up being about tolerance, stigma, guilt, judgment and bravery. If only all our news was this inspiring and informative.

The show has been on for more than two decades. Let's hope it stays on for a lot longer.

Ann Oldenburg   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Ann Oldenburg, assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, began her career at The Washington Post and went on to spend more than two decades with USA Today, where she covered pop culture topics. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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