If you’re following the caucuses on Iowa station KWWL’s "Caucus Blog," you might be excused if you think Brian Williams, not Barack or Hillary or Mike or Mitt, is winning the day. Quincy Newspapers’ NBC affiliate positively fawns over the Nightly News anchor as he reports from Iowa. The first video clip on the blog, entitled "Bob and Brian settling in," shows Williams and local anchor Bob Waters reading their notes before going live.
Next up is the blog entry "Brian Williams!", which sees reporter Jenn Jarvis narrate 32 seconds of Brian Williams cheesecake as the anchor again prepares to go live. Her perch "has a great view of the big board," she says, "and of course our very own Brian Williams."
For local Iowans, is today’s big story really that Brian Williams saw fit to show up in Iowa, or that their state wields extraordinary power in deciding the next leader of the world’s only superpower?
The next entry on Caucus Blog is penned by Jarvis and is fittingly titled "What is a Celebrity?" Jarvis cops to mixed feelings about the fact that some anchors, such as Brian Williams and Anderson Cooper, are full-on stars
."We’ve entered an era where journalists are sometimes more famous than the people they interview," she writes. "As a journalist - I’m not sure how I feel about this."
It’s weird to have this musing posted directly below two clips that show basically nothing but Brian Williams simply being a journalist. As a journalist, I’m pretty sure I know how Jarvis feels about this.
(Jarvis then adds, "I was standing close by and introduced myself to the man behind the voice. [By the way - he was great! Chatting with all of us and he’s surprisingly witty."] Not to pick on Jenn Jarvis or anything, but is Williams’ wit really that surprising? Isn’t that what everyone says about him after they meet him or see him speak? Wasn’t he pretty good on SNL?")
KWWL’s Caucus Blog seems to be a missed opportunity. Instead of using video and bloggery to tell the stories of the candidates and the caucus attendees, KWWL used this medium to give Brian Williams the full US Weekly treatment. No station has yet found out how to best use new media to tell election stories, but this didn’t represent a very promising start.