Support Our Work File an FCC Complaint Movie Reviews Join Us Family Guide to Primetime Television Home
Parents Television Council - Because Our Children Are Watching


1%-5% of your purchase will help support the PTC.

Nick News Is Serious TV


Chances are if you have the Nickelodeon channel in your home, your kids enjoy watching shows the network is best known for, like SpongeBob SquarePants or iCarly. But there’s another program on the network that really deserves a little more attention -- even though you may have to “fool” the kids into watching. Just tell them it’s on the same channel as their favorite candy-coated shows.


Nick News with Linda Ellerbee is a program that’s engineered for kids. Frankly, I’ve never watched it, but after receiving a press release a couple of weeks ago for an upcoming Nick News episode titled Kids in Rehab, my curiosity was raised.


I’ve seen other kids’ news programs before. They usually have an 11-year-old reporter and a 13-year-old anchor doing cutesy little pieces about guinea pigs. But Nick News is very different. First off, it’s hosted and produced by veteran multiple award-winning journalist Linda Ellerbee. She’s almost old enough to be my mother, but Linda, dressed in her casual garb and sneakers, brings a refreshingly natural, calm, no-guff persona to the program. Through her thoughtful take on various topics -- including this one about kids rehabilitating from serious drug dependencies -- she walks her young viewers through stories and information. Never condescending, she brings a trust to the show that would allow a 10-year-old to share her best secret and feel it’s safe.


The program focuses on one topic and sticks with it. Even better, in today’s edit-crazed TV world where we are subjected to MTV-style whip-zooms and frenetic cutting between scenes, Nick News is a little more “old school.” It’s still modern, and you’ll see a little more pizzazz than you’ll find in the six-o’clock news, but it doesn’t depend on gimmicks to do its job. Instead it uses great interviews and thoughtful pictures to tell the story.


Kids In Rehab is a prime example. The episode follows a handful of teens with various drug dependencies through their rehabilitation process. Ellerbee introduces the episode, reminding viewers that although rehab may sound like a spa when we hear of Hollywood celebrities trying to come clean, in reality it is anything but a vacation.


I was impressed at how the program offered some good insight without resorting to scare techniques. At the same time, it showed how young people who have reached this point must continue to fight to keep their dependencies under control, even after completing rehab. (I must also say thank you to their parents who undoubtedly had to sign releases allowing their children to participate. I truly hope this sacrifice will have a positive effect on many others struggling with this problem.)


Unfortunately each Nick News program only airs once during Sunday evening at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), however this episode and others are available for free viewing on the Internet. Just head to http://www.nick.com/nicknews/ and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the complete programs. Some others you may enjoy are A Kid Off the Grid (showing a family who leaves in a self-sustaining community, and also featuring actor Ed Begley Jr. who lives in his modest Hollywood home using solar panels and riding a bicycle to award presentations), and Stressed Out (an episode dealing with the current financial crisis from an adolescent perspective).


Honored as the first-ever kids television program to receive the coveted Edward R. Murrow Award for “Network News Documentary” (the winning episode: “Coming Home: When Parents Return from War”) and also the recipient of multiple Emmys, Nick News With Linda Ellerbee is a stunning example of what television can do in a young person’s life. The program will certainly be on my watch list from now on.


Rod Gustafson


Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews® - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.

Parenting and the Media by Rod Gustafson

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

Click here to comment on this column




JOIN US ON:          .

Parents Television Council, www.parentstv.org, PTC, Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting children against sex, violence and profanity in entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval, and Family Guide to Prime Time Television are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.