News & Events
July 18, 2021
RIAS alumni chapters meet in New York, Cologne & Berlin
RIAS Berlin Commission alumni chapters held reunion meetings in New York, Cologne and Berlin in recent weeks — the first get-togethers in over a year. New York Alumni Chapter leader Michael Gargiulo (right) and six other members of the New York alumni group met at Reichenbach Hall in Manhattan on Thursday, July 15 to celebrate their first meeting after the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. Gargiulo said the group was delighted to meet again in the popular German-style beer hall in midtown and talked about the upcoming alumni program in September in Berlin for up to 30 Americans interested in covering the German federal election on September 26 and networking.
“It meant so much for us to get back together after a year and a half because it meant that RIAS New York is back, but also New York City is back,” said Gargiulo, who is also the U.S. coordinator for applicants to the alumni program. Among those alumni who also attended the New York alumni meeting were Adam Reiss, Tiffany Zeno, TJ Speicher, and Basti Harting.
In Cologne, chapter leader Martin Richter (second from right) and six others gathered in a Brauhaus near the Rhine River on Wednesday, July 14. The turnout was reduced by heavy rains in the region that evening that led to devastating flash floods the next day in towns southwest from Cologne. Those attending also talked about the planned alumni program to the United States in late October and whether the United States will relax travel restrictions on European Union citizens soon — a topic of discussion that Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed with President Joe Biden a day later at their meeting in Washington DC.
“I think everyone who came had a great time,” said Richter, who will be coordinating the German applicants for the October alumni program to New York in late October. Among those who also joined the alumni chapter meeting were Bartosz Dudek, Claudia Davis and Kerstin Ruskowski.
In Berlin, the chapter met on June 30 with Vladimir Balzer (first from the left) organizing a meeting at a Berlin restaurant in the government quarter that four others attended. The Berlin group talked about the upcoming elections in Germany, the status of vaccinations and infection rates in the coronavirus pandemic, recruiting efforts for new applicants to the RIAS programs from especially eastern Germany and the upcoming alumni program in October in New York after the October 2020 program to Washington was cancelled. The group also celebrated Benjamin Eyssel’s long-delayed appointment to Beijing for RBB radio (on the right) Also attending were Dorte Störmann, Erik Kirschbaum and Philipp Eins.
July 7, 2021
RIAS alumni program planned for Berlin in September
The RIAS Berlin Commission is planning a one-week alumni program for up to 30 Americans from September 20 to 27 and invites all former RIAS participants to take part.
The program is timed to coincide with the German federal election on September 26 and there will be a number of meetings with politicians, think tanks and attending German campaign rallies.
Following the great success of the November 2019 alumni program in Berlin timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary and celebrations relating to the fall of the Berlin Wall during which many of the American alumni were able to report on events to their home stations, RIAS alumni participants are welcome and encouraged to report on the German election for their outlets in the United States to come to Berlin to network with colleagues and associates.
There will about two appointments per day, allowing ample time for networking with U.S. and German journalists who have taken part in programs over the last three decades. German alumni are also welcome to take part in the one-week long program designed to keep the spirit of RIAS alive nearly 30 years after the Cold War’s “Free Voice of the Free World” went off the air.
If you are interested in taking part, please write to the leader of the New York alumni chapter Michael Gargiulo (email@example.com) or to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for further information
Michael Gargiulo will be coordinating the program from the United States.
As in the past, RIAS will be covering hotel and breakfast costs, a week’s pass on the Berlin subway/bus network and many group dinners during the week while participants will have to cover their own airfare.
June 29, 2021
St. Louis alumni chapter of RIAS Berlin Commission launched with 3 intrepid alumni
Three RIAS Berlin Commission alumni in St. Louis got together recently to start a local chapter, following in the footsteps of chapters in New York, Washington DC, Texas/Oklahoma and Los Angeles. There are also chapters in Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg.
Rachel D. Lippmann of St. Louis Public Radio, who took part in the RIAS program in 2017, joined with her former colleague Ryan Delaney, who was on the program to Brussels and Germany in 2019, and Stephanie Carr, who was on the 2018 program to mark the occasion recently with a dinner at at a sandwich pub called The Gramophone in St. Louis’ The Grove neighborhood.
Rachel and Ryan had long worked together at St. Louis Public Radio while Stephanie recently moved from Nashville to St. Louis to work at station KSDK, an NBC affiliate for St. Louis. She had been working at a local station in Kansas City when she took part in the RIAS program.
June 10, 2021
RIAS Berlin Commission exchange programs to resume in September
The RIAS Berlin Commission’s board of directors approved on Thursday, June 10 plans to resume the in-person exchange programs in the fall of 2021 following the widespread relaxation of restrictions in the United States and Germany after the Covid-19 pandemic that idled the programs for the last 15 months.
The first in-person exchange program for up to 30 American alumni members is tentatively scheduled for September 20 to September 27 in Berlin — timed to coincide with the September 26 German federal election. The second program for 10 to 12 German broadcast journalists would start on or about October 4 or October 11 and run for three weeks.
Most of the journalists on that October 2021 program were scheduled to take part in a March 2020 program that was cancelled at the last minute. A third program tentatively scheduled for one week in late October would be for up to 30 German alumni members in either New York or Washington DC. Those and other details still have to be decided.
All alumni in the United States and Germany who are interested in either the September one-week program in Berlin or the October one-week program in the United States should contact their local alumni chapter leaders or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 7, 2021
When will RIAS Berlin Commission exchange programs resume?
The RIAS Berlin Commission is eager to resume its transatlantic exchange programs for German and American journalists as soon as it is possible. Unfortunately there are still travel restrictions in place making it difficult for Germans to visit the United States and there are also limits on U.S. citizens traveling to the European Union. These travel restrictions and any quarantine requirements make it in essence impossible to run our in-person exchange programs. In the meantime, RIAS has been hosting weekly Zoom talks with many of our guest speakers that future participants and alumni are invited to attend.
The travel restrictions to Germany and to the United States might be lifted in the near term, which would clear a path for RIAS to resume its programs perhaps in the fall of 2021. Another key factor in the resumption of programs would be a reopening of newsrooms for visitors in both Germany and the United States because visiting journalists in each country is one of the important aspects of the exchange programs.
If the vaccination efforts in the United States and Germany lead to relaxations of the travel restrictions and further newsroom openings in each country, RIAS Berlin Commission hopes to organize an alumni program in Berlin from September 20-27 for 30 American journalists to coincide with Germany’s federal elections on September 26. If possible, it would also aim to reschedule the March 2020 program for 15 German journalists that was cancelled at the last minute to October 4-22 as well as hold a one-week program for 30 German alumni from October 25-31 that was originally scheduled for late October 2020. RIAS hopes to make a decision on these programs by mid-June 2021.
Please write us at email@example.com if you have any further questions about these or any other programs.
April 13, 2021
RIAS Media Prize winners take part in weekly Zoom talks from April 14 to May 26
The RIAS Berlin Commission will be resuming its program of Zoom talks on April 14 with WNBC TV morning co-anchor Michael Gargiulo, who was the co-chair of the RIAS Berlin Commission Media Prize jury. Gargiulo, a veteran of the RIAS jury, will talk about the 2021 prize, some of the trends in this year’s competition and about the possibility of having an
awards ceremony in in Berlin in November. You can watch or listen to all the winning stories on the RIAS Berlin Commission website below in the March 26 story.
March 31, 2021
RIAS Berlin Commission exchange program outlook for 2021
The RIAS Berlin Commission in-person journalist exchange programs have been suspended since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The RIAS Berlin Commission has been tracking the situation in both the United States and Germany and hopes to restart the programs as soon as the prevailing conditions allow.
There is a possibility that the exchange programs could resume in late September or October but that would depend on conditions in both countries – in particular the reopening of newsrooms for visitors and an absence of any mandatory travel-related quarantines — that would allow for meaningful exchanges.
A decision on whether RIAS programs can resume in the autumn or later will be made in mid-June. In the meantime, please do take advantage of our regular Zoom talks with prominent guest speakers and alumni from the United States and Germany that we have been holding for the last 10 months. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
March 26, 2021
Jury commendations for RIAS Media Prize winners
An independent panel of American and German journalists issued the following commendations for
the six RIAS Berlin Commission 2021 prize winners.
The jury for the 29th annual prize was made up of three Americans and three Germans and a total of 10,000 EUR prize money will be presented to the winners at a gala ceremony expected to be held in November. The jury includes: Co-chair Michael Gargiulo (WNBC TV, New York), Co-chair Anja Heyde (ZDF-MDR, Berlin) as well as Helge Fuhst (ARD, Hamburg), Yami Virgin (Fox 29, San Antonio, Texas), Matt Karnitschnig (Politico, Berlin) and Richard Meng (formerly Frankfurter Rundschau).
The RIAS Media Prize is intended to help strengthen the diversity of transatlantic dialogue and to deepen interest in German-American relations. There will be a total 10,000 EUR in prize money awarded to the six winners, including a new 5,000 EUR grand prize for the single most outstanding entry broadcast in 2020.
Here is what the jury had to say:
Ingo Zamperoni, Birgit Wärnke – NDR: “Trump, meine amerikansiche Familie und ich”
“Trump, My American Family and Me” by Ingo Zamperoni and Birgit Wärnke is an outstanding film about an American family and is, at the same time, a film about American society. It shows the political divisions of the country on a meta-level through a private lens that is full of empathy. Zamperoni took a considerable risk by broadcasting such a personal glimpse of his family. The result is a film that gives viewers valuable insights into American life and ways of thinking that is rarely seen in Germany. The film makes no judgment – but instead simply documents the situation. By doing so, it reveals why so many Americans cast their ballots in favor of Donald Trump as their president. The narrative shows the entire ambivalence between a great love for a great country and the palpable aversion to some of the social and political developments within the USA.
RIAS Radio Award:
Aylin Dogan, Gregor Schmalzried – Bayern 2 (BR): “Die Andere Cancel Culture – von den unbekannten Opfer der Sozialen Medien“
“Cancel Culture” is a corrosive phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic. In their thought-provoking report for Bayern 2, Aylin Dogan and Gregor Schmalzried delve into this emotional issue with nuance, exploring the tensions and misunderstandings it creates. They report on the tremendous power of “Cancel Culture“ in social media and how it sometimes hits the wrong target – from ordinary people to celebrities who are often powerless to defend themselves.
RIAS Digital Video Award:
Janek Speight – Deutsche Welle: “Why US sports are more socialist than European football”
Janek Speight has succeeded in creating an unusual, attention-grabbing look at the routines of professional sports on both sides of the Atlantic. A cheeky inversion of clichés, a social media-friendly and brilliant comparison of the incomparable. He discovers almost “socialist” aspects in American sports – with its revenue sharing, salary caps and draft system – and he contrasts those with a rather brutal selfishness of big money in Europe. His YouTube contribution for Deutsche Welle combines tongue-in-cheek levity with serious analysis. A triumphant piece of transatlantic journalism.
RIAS Fellow Award Radio:
Ryan Delaney – St. Louis Public Radio, NPR: “How Germany Reopened Schools During a Pandemic”
2020 was the year everything changed for millions of schoolchildren. Most of the schools in the United States were closed, many students were at home for remote learning. Germany, however, reopened its schools during the crisis. How? Ryan Delaney from St. Louis Public Radio went in search of and found the answers to this question in a series of reports in October/November 2020 through Pulitzer Center and Education Writers Association. He spoke with a kindergarten teacher in Cologne, a father in Berlin, a high school student in Bonn and many others. He took the listeners into the classrooms to understand the actual impact of the decisions made regarding education and of the health of a generation.
RIAS Next Generation Award Award:
Anna Ellmann, Maximilian Osenstätter – BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk): “News WG – Series of Instagram Stories on Political Issues”
News – “not from the pages of a newspaper or a TV screen but from ‘Instagram”? That is the goal of the ‘Die News-WG’ – which was developed by young journalists at Bayerische Rundfunk (BR). The News-WG Team reports on the news in ways that young people understand and relate to… and they deliver the news to where young people are active…on Instagram. They tackle questions like ‘Things politicians would never say’ or ‘What kind of pork is that in your sandwich?’
Special Jury Prize Radio:
Michael Groth – Deutschlandradio Kultur: “Songs of Love and Protest – Wiederkehr des politischen Liedes in den USA“
Michael Groth has produced a series of outstanding, in-depth feature stories on the rich history of music in the United States and its influence on both politics in the United States and on music in Germany for Deutschlandfunk Kultur over the last 15 years. From features on Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Corky Siegel, Hank Williams, various country music and Mississippi Delta artists to the Chicago Blues and music from Austin and Nashville, Groth is a master of his craft. For his determination as perennial entrant, Groth receives special jury recognition for his contributions.
March 19, 2021
Six German, American stories picked as RIAS Media Prize winners in 2021
The RIAS BERLIN Commission is proud to announce the winners of this year’s RIAS Media Prize Awards. The 29th annual award is presented by the German-American exchange program and celebrates the best of transatlantic broadcast journalism with 10,000 EUR in prize-money awarded.
The jury made up of six distinguished journalists from the United States and Germany selected six winners in TV, Radio and Digital Media categories in Berlin on March 17, 2021. The jury includes: Co-chair Michael Gargiulo (WNBC TV, New York), Co-chair Anja Heyde (ZDF-MDR, Berlin) as well as Helge Fuhst (ARD, Hamburg), Yami Virgin (Fox 29, San Antonio, Texas), Matt Karnitschnig (Politico, Berlin) and Richard Meng (formerly Frankfurter Rundschau). Conditions allowing, RIAS Berlin Commission will host a gala ceremony in November to pay tribute to the winners from the 2021 competition as well as the 2020 completion that was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year’s prize winners are:
Rias Berlin Commision Grand Prize
Ingo Zamperoni, Birgit Wärnke “Trump, meine amerikanische Familie und ich“, ARD, November 2, 2020
RIAS Radio Award
Aylin Dogan, Gregor Schmalzried “Die andere Cancel Culture – Von den unbekannten Opfern der Sozialen Medien“, Bayern 2 (BR), September 13, 2020 https://www.br.de/mediathek/podcast/zuendfunk-generator/die-andere-cancel-culture-von-den-unbekannten-opfern-der-sozialen-medien/1804209
RIAS Digital Media Award
Janek Speight “Why US sports are more socialist than European football“,Deutsche Welle YouTube film, September 18, 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0yZQgDwn1A
RIAS Fellow Award
Ryan Delaney “How Germany Reopened Its Schools During a Pandemic”, St. Louis Public Radio, NPR series during October/November 2020 through Pulitzer Center and Education Writers Association https://pulitzercenter.org/projects/how-germany-reopened-its-schools-during-pandemic
Special Jury Prize
Michael Groth “Songs of Love and Protest – Wiederkehr des politischen Liedes in den USA“ on October 30, 2020 and recognition for more than 15 years of outstanding in-depth features on US music for Deutschlandfunk/Deutschlandfunk Kultur https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/die-wiederkehr-des-politischen-liedes-in-den-usa-songs-of.3780.de.html?dram:article_id=486565
RIAS Next Generation Prize
Anna Ellmann, Maximilian Osenstätter “News WG” – series of Instagram stories about political issues for BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk) https://www.instagram.com/news_wg/channel/?hl=de
January 27, 2021
Deadline nears for RIAS Media Prize submissions
The deadline for entries for the 2021 RIAS Media Prize is nearing on January 31. Journalists from the United States and Germany are encouraged to enter their best stories for the annual competition that puts a spotlight on exceptional radio, television and digital stories that were broadcast or published in 2020. Here is a link for the entry form.
The RIAS Media Prize is intended to help strengthen the diversity of transatlantic dialogue and to deepen interest in German-American relations. Germany and the USA are each facing new directions in many respects, both internally and externally. Committed, independent journalism can contribute a great deal to mutual understanding of and between countries as well as to an open social discourse about values and goals. The contributions submitted should go beyond daily and routine reporting, should process information and describe social reality in a remarkable way, and promote dialogue on similarities and differences in transatlantic relations.
Ideally, contributions worth consideration should: stand out thematically and/or in their execution; take on new questions in a creative way; critically examine and make the diversity of social reality clear; contain interesting suggestions for transatlantic debate; encourage reflection on problems and solutions; question clichés about Germans and/or Americans; describe trends in everyday life that are of general interest; contribute in a special way to mutual curiosity and understanding; be suitable to strengthen democratic and societal values.
The entry system has been streamlined this year as well as there is no need to send tapes or audio recordings any longer. Instead, all entries must be submitted electronically via email with a valid UR that is active until March 2021 and can be accessed without proprietary information (password) by the RIAS jury.
January 24, 2021
IMPORTANT! Call for Entries 2021
DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: JANUARY 31, 2021
January 13, 2021
RIAS Zoom Talks open 2021 with large group of alumni for Michael Cohen
More than 100 RIAS Berlin Commission alumni and friends of RIAS took part in a riveting hour-long conversation with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney and self-described “fixer”.
In a conversation organized and moderated by Adam Reiss of NBC, Cohen described in great detail his long and close relationship with Trump before he pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other crimes. He is currently on house arrest after being sentenced to a three-year sentence.
Here and also on youtube is the full interview:
Cohen said he also predicted that there would be turmoil surrounding any transition from Trump to another president. He also talked about being on house arrest and how that he had to stay inside his apartment in New York for 22 hours a day.
“There are a lot of people who take jabs at me and say ‘Ah you worked with him for a decade and a half you did his dirty deeds for him you helped to promote him’,” Cohen said. “Yes I did. yes I acted in ways that, if I could go back in time I would have (done differently). Did we play hardball with contractors? Sure we did, sure we stiffed contractors and sure we bullied people into getting what we wanted….. Donald Trump has become the worst version of himself imaginable. He is living in an alternate universe. The scariest part of it all is that 70 million people voted for him.”
Cohen said Trump believes he won the November 3, 2020 and cannot fathom how it was possible to win seven million more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016 yet not win. “He truly believes that he won the election,” Cohen said. “He has a fragile ego and he truly believes that he won this election and it was stolen from him.”
RIAS alumni Allison Walker did this story on the RIAS zoom talk for her local station in Dayton, Ohio. Cohen said that Trump was enjoying the turmoil and would continue blowing a “dog whistle” to his ‘Make America Great Again (MAGA) supporters. “Donald Trump speaks in code,” he said. “He will say this inauguration is a ‘shame to our democracy’, ‘they’re taking away your right’ and ‘your vote and not listening to the will of the American people’.”
Cohen said thanks to tighter security precautions the chaos that happened on January 6 in Washington DC would not be repeated on January 20 at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Cohen said that Trump tends not to think more than five minutes ahead of time and wasted a golden opportunity to rebuild infrastructure in the United States at the start of his term.
Cohen also talked about his book “Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump” about his time working for Trump as well as his new podcast called Mea Culpa
As part of the on-going efforts to connect alumni in the United States and Germany, the RIAS Zoom talks will continue on a near-weekly basis in 2021. We hope that you can join us in these enlightening discussions designed to broaden horizons and keep the spirit of RIAS alive through the Covid-19 crisis.