Book #4: “And So It Goes” — Linda Ellerbee (1986)
There was a time, before “Nightline” became a shambling corpse of its former self, when late night news had a place on network TV. When the news of the day was discussed outside of soundbites, issues were debated, and in-depth interviews were given. Now, sadly, it’s fallen to Comedy Central to tell the hard truth, but back in the early ’80s a whole slew of shows were vying for facts and ratings, and there was no better outlet than “Overnight” on NBC — mostly because there was no better reporter, and no better writer, than Linda Ellerbee.
My own career in TV news lasted approximately one day. I had a freelance gig as a courtroom illustrator, covering the murder trail of a dirty cop, sketching madly for a local station right up until air time and then holding up the drawings for the cameraman to broadcast live as the reporter did her standup. My experience that day was heady and rich and right out of “Broadcast News,” but I soon realized it wouldn’t work and moved on. But I would like to think, if I stuck with it, it would have been just as interesting as Linda Ellerbee makes her adventures in television out to be.
A lively and memorable autobiography, “And So It Goes” should be required reading for reporters and historians everywhere. (If for no other reason than the phrase “Ride the Elephant,” a term Ellerbee coined to describe the shitty jobs all cub reporters must get through to make it to the ‘big time.’) Ellerbee is hardcore, a cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy, and someone who the networks never felt comfortable with and so kept pushing up and up until she was out. Her books are worth tracking down even a quarter century later.