And so it goes ... away.
“Nick News with Linda Ellerbee,” a news show for children on the Nickelodeon cable channel that debuted 25 years ago, airs its final episode on Tuesday at 8 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific). The hour-long finale also marks the stopping point for anchor Ellerbee, whose longtime signoff throughout her TV news career has been, “And so it goes.”
Ellerbee, 71, is retiring after a long career in general TV news, including the smartly written “NBC News Overnight” show in the 1980s, when I first became a fan.
“Nick News” had its roots as a special to help children understand the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. This was when young people were being targeted with news shows such as Channel One (in their classrooms, with commercials), CNN Newsroom (also in classrooms, but without commercials), and MTV News.
In Tuesday’s finale, Ellerbee tells viewers, “We believed you were smart. We would not talk down to you.” And so the show did not, tackling tough stories such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the crisis in Syria.
The special, “Hello, I Must Be Going, 25 Years of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee,” is mostly a series of video clips from those reports. Besides wars and other crises, the show has dealt with issues such as coming out for gay young people, women’s rights, animal testing, and evolution, among others.
The show won Emmy Awards for topics that included children of alcoholics, children living with cancer, “The Untouchable Kids of India,” when parents return from war, and “Kids, HIV & AIDS.”
Ellerbee told ABC’s “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts on Monday that AIDS was the toughest topic to handle in 25 years of the show.
“When you talk about AIDS, you have to talk about sex,” she said, and some in the “Nick News” target viewership had yet to learn about sex from their parents.
“Another of our missions was to show you courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it,” Ellerbee says in the special, before a poignant clip featuring a blind young man who says, “Sometimes I wish I could see. I would like to see for one day.”
The last section of the special is all about what Ellerbee learned from such inspiring children.
The rapid-fire clips in the finale do make me wish I had tuned in to all of these “Nick News” episodes over the years. One episode explored the stories of Muslim children in America, a timely topic if there ever was one.
That begs a question. The end of “Nick News” seems to be the result of Ellerbee’s decision to retire, since the show was produced by her Lucky Duck Productions. But is there any lesser need for someone to help the young viewers of Nickelodeon make sense of the larger world? Nickelodeon didn’t address that in its press materials and didn’t respond to a request for comment.
So, the nation’s children have to go forth in a world in which Linda Ellerbee will not be there to help them make sense of it.
And so it goes.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.