Linda Ellerbee’s Journey

May 22, 2006  •  Post A Comment


Linda Ellerbee’s early career includes working as an Associated Press reporter in Dallas, followed by reporting jobs with CBS affiliate KHOU-TV in Houston and later New York’s WCBS-TV.


Ms. Ellerbee moves to NBC News, first as a Washington-based congressional correspondent, then as co-anchor of the newsmagazine “Weekend” and later as co-anchor of “NBC News Overnight” and “Summer Sunday,” winning fans along the way for her quirky, irreverent style. In 1985 she becomes a national political correspondent for the network.


Ms. Ellerbee publishes the best-selling book “And So It Goes,” an insider’s look at the TV news business. The title comes from her trademark phrase for ending broadcasts. She jumps to ABC News as co-anchor and writer of the short-lived weekly newsmagazine “Our World,” which looks back at historical events and is co-anchored by Ray Gandolf.


With “Our World” canceled due to low ratings, Ms. Ellerbee leaves the networks behind and, with her partner Rolfe Tessem, begins Lucky Duck Productions. The company produces specials for PBS and cable channels Lifetime and TBS.


Coverage of the first Gulf War is saturating the airwaves, and Lucky Duck Productions is commissioned by Nickelodeon to produce its first news specials for children, called “Kids Talk About the Middle East.” The program runs Jan. 31.

  • Lucky Duck and Nickelodeon begin collaborating on regular news specials for kids. The first program, “The Day the Earth Threw Up,” premieres Sept. 22 and looks at kids and environmentalism. Later specials tackle prejudice, stereotypes and television literacy.


    “A Conversation With Magic” is televised March 25, marking the premiere of “Nick News” as a regular series. The episode features basketball star Magic Johnson talking with kids about HIV and AIDS. The show wins a Cable ACE Award.

  • The Oct. 10 “Nick News” special “Who Wants to Be President?” looks at the upcoming election. Starting in 1996, the network holds its own quadrennial election, known as “Kids Pick the President.”


    “After the Verdict” uses O.J. Simpson’s murder trial acquittal as a jumping-off point to examine the issue of racism in American life.


    “Nick News” travels to Israel for a Jan. 12 episode called “Peace on Earth,” which looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian and Israeli children are brought to New York-neutral territory-to meet and talk face to face.

  • In “What Are You Staring At?” on Nov. 11, actor Christopher Reeve and journalist John Hockenberry talk with kids about the difficult topic of physical disability. The program wins an Emmy.


    “The Clinton Crisis” looks at the impeachment of President Clinton and debates whether it is ever OK for the president to lie. For its respectful approach to the topic, the program receives a Peabody Award, the only TV program on the topic-for adults or kids-that is so honored.


    Just three days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, “Nick News” convenes a panel of kids of all ethnic backgrounds to tape a frank discussion on the topic of “September 11: Kids, Terrorism and the American Spirit.” The program runs Sept. 17. Children talk about their fears and their desire to fight back, and a Muslim girl talks about being the target of others’ anger. In March 2002, the program travels to Afghanistan to talk with Afghan children in the wake of the American-led bombing. That episode wins an Emmy Award.


    The plan to broadcast “My Family Is Different,” about showing respect for kids who come from same-sex families, ignites controversy among conservative Christians who want the show canceled. The program includes sharp debate among children who are proud of their same-sex parents and kids who think homosexuality is wrong and who say they would have a hard time being friends with children whose parents are gay.


    “The Courage to Live: Kids, South Africa and AIDS” examines the AIDS crisis in the region.


    “Never Again? From the Holocaust to the Sudan” on Jan. 27 marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and looks at similarities to what is happening in the Darfur region of Sudan. The episode wins an Emmy.

  • The Dec. 18 episode “Ten Things Wrong With Television” is the latest in a series of episodes of “Nick News” to deal with media literacy issues.

    -Elizabeth Jensen