What in the World Was NBC Thinking?  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   June 1998

What in the World Was NBC Thinking?   

NBC's "Today" airs a silly series called "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?"

By Debra Puchalla
Debra Puchalla is AJR's associate editor and deputy editor of Martha Stewart Living.      


NBC's "Today" airs a silly series called "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?"

For one week this spring, Matt Lauer, cohost of NBC's "Today," bounced from Egypt to Italy and Greece and on to India and Australia for his mini odyssey, "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" As if the air of intrigue weren't enough – even Katie didn't know where he was! – another reporter went to American parallels of his destinations, such as Venice Beach and the Trump Taj Mahal. Then there was the kitschy jingle and the "digital diary" ( www.msnbc.com/ news/163232.as p), partially excerpted here.

From Egypt: "Our dinner that night was aboard a barge on the Nile River. The food was so-so, but we were treated to a fireworks display over the city. I thought our host, the Minister of Information, arranged it for our benefit, but it was actually a celebration of Sinai independence – just a coin-cidence. I interviewed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday morning. We talked about the prospects for peace in the region.

"Monday's show went off without a hitch – maybe a bit too hot and dusty, and the flies were way too aggressive, but the pictures were amazing. Standing in the shadow of history's most famous monuments, the pyramids and the Great Sphinx, it was impossible not to feel small, both in size and significance. We were in the presence of kings and queens, but there was little time to remain in awe. We had a plane to catch..."

From Italy: "When we arrived at the Venice airport we were asked for our passports. I went to retrieve mine from my briefcase and to my horror it was not there. After frantically searching all of my bags and putting everyone around me into a panic, I found my passport – in my jacket pocket!

"Besides the fact that I had to do the entire show in the pouring rain, I enjoyed every moment of my brief time in Venice. The canals, the tiny streets, the beautiful shops and cafes – didn't get to go to any, but they were beautiful!"

From Greece: "In Athens, we were the first American broadcast from the Acropolis. Unfortunately, it was once again raining, but the weather did not put a damper on the show or our spirits. Since our schedule was so tight, we left right after the show, and I was not able to see much of Athens – except for what I could see from my car window to the airport."

Then came the climactic final entry.

From Australia : "In all, we have been to five continents, we've spent more than 40 hours in the air and traveled over 16,000 miles. During our longest day of the trip, today, we covered 6,000 miles. It was a brutal trip, but I am glad that I did it. I was able to see places I have never seen, meet interesting people and travel with a terrific team. However, I don't think that I will be doing this again any time soon."

Pity.

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