SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



RTDNA honorees relate times of laughter, tears

By eijnews

By Ashley Carnifax
The Working Press

Linda Ellerbee smiles as she receives a standing ovation from a packed room. Carolina Hidalgo/The Working Press

The Radio Television Digital News Association awarded its highest honor to Linda Ellerbee Monday for lifetime achievement in electronic journalism.
Ellerbee, of Nickelodeon Television’s “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee,” kept the audience laughing as she accepted the 2011 Paul White Award, telling stories about her 40-year career in television.
But first, she told the tale of how she ended up in television.
Ellerbee began her career in the 1970s in an Associated Press newsroom equipped with computers. She said she used the computer to type a letter to a friend in Alaska, complaining about her job and saying undesirable things about her boss and other media outlets, she explained.
That letter accidentally went out over the AP wire and Ellerbee was promptly fired, she said, to an uproar of laughter from the crowd.
Ellerbee proceeded to work in TV for more than four decades, most recently as the host of “Nick News.”
She said kids today spend more time in front of TVs than in classrooms, so it is important to tell them “real stories about the real world.”
Ellerbee said her biggest lesson learned from working on “Nick News” is learning “kids are not dumb. They are younger, and often shorter, but they are not stupid – they just don’t know as much yet.”
As children, Ellerbee and her classmates participated in drills in school to prepare them for an attack from the Soviet Union, but no one would tell her why or tell her about the issues. That experience is part of the reason why she focuses on telling kids the truth, she said.
She said there is one point she always tries to include in “Nick News,” even if “adult” news doesn’t always point it out: “Wherever in the world you find bad things happening, you will find good people trying to make things better.”
‘Put back together little by little’
Lara Logan said she thought of three things while a montage of her reporting clips played to convention attendees on Monday: How much she loves her job, how bad her hair looked in some of the clips and how hard it is to see moments from her trip to Egypt replayed.

Lara Logan, a correspondent for CBS News and "60 Minutes" correspondent, received the 2011 John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award. Carolina Hidalgo/The Working Press

Logan, a CBS News and “60 Minutes” correspondent who was assaulted in February while covering the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was awarded the 2011 John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award Monday. In her acceptance speech, she spoke about the importance of persevering despite the dangers and challenges of being a journalist.
“I’m not afraid to talk about what happened, because I knew instinctively what was right and that’s what has guided me through my career,” Logan said.
She said she “never expected to be recognized for an award like this,” and the praise and support from fellow journalists after her attack is like “being broken into a thousand pieces and put back together little by little.”

Attendees watch a reel of Lara Logan's video clips. Carolina Hidalgo/The Working Press

The award, named for the founder and first president of RTDNA, recognizes journalists who contributed to the profession and freedom of the press. Logan said despite the incident, she was committed to journalism and telling the stories that need to be told.
“At the end of the day when your choice is between a hot meal or telling a real story the way it should be told … it doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you are doing,” Logan said.




The EIJ News