BBG networks generated extensive coverage of Monday’s Iowa Caucus, the first U.S. contest to pick Republican and Democratic presidential nominees in the run-up to November’s national election. Audiences in Russia, the Middle East and other parts of the world benefited from BBG’s timely news and analytical reporting on the caucus, a peaceful, organized voting process that is uniquely American.
BBG’s the Voice of America (VOA), the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) produced original material for many people who otherwise would have limited access to it.
VOA’s News Center generated around-the-clock coverage in English before, during and after the Iowa Caucus, producing a plethora of television and radio pieces, plus written material for the News Center file and voanews.com. The News Center’s Iowa Caucus coverage team previewed the election with stories on state-wide voter demographics and party preferences; through interviews with political analysts who speculated on the outcome; and by covering rallies for the candidates as they sought their party’s nod. The News Center posted a fact sheet on voanews.com explaining the U.S. presidential election cycle.
On Monday, VOA’s News Center covered the candidates as they made last-minute appeals for support and issued reports on tight deadline as election officials counted the votes and released final tallies. News Center reporters also conducted live phone and Skype shots from Iowa with VOA affiliates around the world.
Many VOA language services used the News Center’s material, but others produced original work. A reporter, cameraman team from the Russian service provided diverse coverage from Iowa, including a live preview from the state capital, Des Moines, on what to expect from the voters and candidates, and analysis of why Iowa is so critical in the presidential race. The team also interviewed Liz Garst, granddaughter of Roswell Garst, who in 1959 welcomed then-Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev to his farm in Coon Rapids, Iowa. Liz Garst now helps organize the Iowa Caucus for the Democratic Party.
Other VOA Eurasian services generated original content and did live Q&As with TV stations from their respective countries. The Ukrainian service conducted a live Q&A with Ukraine’s National Channel 1, Channel 24 and ICTV, as well as with RFE/RL. VOA Serbian previewed the caucus with a live Q&A with its affiliate TV Montenegro. The Macedonian service aired a preview of the caucus on its “Newsflash” show and web site and ran updates on Tuesday with the results.
In VOA’s Africa Division, the Somali service interviewed two Somali-American political activists in Iowa, one Republican and one Democrat. The Hausa service interviewed a political expert of Nigerian descent who analyzed the American electoral system of caucuses and primaries for VOA’s audience in Nigeria. French to Africa talked to a professor in Iowa about the experiences of the local population during the caucus process.
In the case of MBN, two correspondents reported from Iowa for the network’s stations Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa. Prior to the caucus, they interviewed officials from Des Moines about Iowa’s history of being the first state to vote in the presidential election season, as well as a Des Moines-based journalist and political analysts about expectations for the voting. Following the caucus, Alhurra’s correspondents shared reaction from the candidates and voters. The network examined what the outcome means for the future of the presidential candidates and aired excerpts of their post-election speeches.
Alhurra and Radio Sawa also provided extensive coverage on the role the Iowa Caucus plays in American democracy and what issues most interested the voters when they went to caucus. The show “Sawa Magazine” examined the impact of the Iowa Caucus on the Democratic and Republican parties.
BBG networks are now setting their plans in motion for coverage of the next momentous event in the U.S. presidential election season: next week’s New Hampshire Primary (Feb. 9).