- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

LOS ANGELES — Linda Ellerbee worked nonstop for two days putting out a special report on the terrorist attacks, then went to work re-editing her 10th-anniversary special.
The hourlong program, "Turning Ten: A Nick News Celebration," will be bookended by stories on the Gulf war and the events of Sept. 11.
"It's kind of like we've come full circle, a circle we never wanted to be in," she says, recalling how she began bringing news to children.
"It started with the Gulf war 10 years ago," the anchor of Nickelodeon cable network's long-running "Nick News With Linda Ellerbee" says by phone from New York.
"Geraldine Laybourne, who was running the network then, called us about three days into the Gulf war, and she said, 'I'm terrified for American kids. No one is talking to them. I know your company, and I know your reporting. Would you put together a special for kids?'
"I said, 'Geri, I don't know anything about producing children's shows,' and she said, 'We don't know anything about producing news; we'll work together.'"
Ten years later, Miss Ellerbee is still explaining the news each Sunday (8:30 p.m.) to youngsters who tune in to a network best known for its nighttime reruns of popular old TV shows and its lighthearted daytime children's programs, including "Rugrats" and "SpongeBob SquarePants."
A recipient of Emmy and Peabody awards for "Nick News," Miss Ellerbee had finished editing "Turning Ten: A Nick News Celebration" (which airs 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday) when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred.
The veteran journalist and former NBC News anchorwoman said her emotions have fluctuated wildly in the tragedy's aftermath, from the adrenaline rush of covering the story to the heartbreaking reality that 11 members of a neighborhood fire station were killed.
Miss Ellerbee, whose home and company, Lucky Duck Productions, are within walking distance of the trade center, chokes up often as she tries to talk about it. She broke down and cried for half an hour, she says, after stopping at the firehouse to pay her respects.
As she has talked with children over the years about school shootings, President Clinton's impeachment, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma and AIDS and HIV, it has struck her how closely even very young children follow the major issues of the day. That is largely the result, she believes, of saturation TV news coverage.
"If you're over the age of 7 or 8, there's not a single kid in America who hasn't talked about, who is not aware of these events, who hasn't seen that plane crash into that building a zillion times," she says.
During her recent special on terrorism, the 57-year-old Miss Ellerbee listened to the children's concerns, and although many said they were angry, not one called for violent retaliation. It surprised her at first, she said, but probably should not have.
"Since the Oklahoma bombing and the school shootings, we as a nation parents, teachers, schools we as a nation have gone out of our way to teach children that violence isn't a mature answer. And I was shocked to learn they were listening to us," she says.
In her 10th-anniversary special she talked to several students she had reported on five or 10 years earlier as they had stood up against people producing pro-Nazi video games or discriminating against those with AIDS. She found that they were still working to make a difference.
Such discoveries keep her coming back to do "Nick News" year after year, says Miss Ellerbee, who also has worked as a correspondent for ABC News and written a best-selling memoir on the broadcast news business.

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