Nick News Is
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
and the Media by Rod Gustafson
Television Council -
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