News & Events
RIAS Alumni Meeting set for Sept. 7 at EIJ in Anaheim, California
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the RIAS Berlin Commission and its successful long-running partnership with RTDNA/F, alumni from the last quarter century are all cordially invited to attend the annual alumni meeting of the RTDNA/RIAS Berlin Commission at RTDNA’s Excellence in Journalism (EIJ) convention at the Anaheim Marriot in Anaheim, California on Thursday, September 7 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
All members of the Radio and Television Digital News Association/Foundation and alumni of the German-American exchange program attending the EIJ convention are welcome to attend the alumni meeting free of charge while non-members of RTDNA/F are also able to attend the RIAS reception without signing up for the full conference. For non-members interested in signing up for the EIJ conference itself, they can register here: https://www.spj.org/c-register.asp
There have been a lot of interesting changes in the RIAS Berlin Commission over the last year and Berlin-based executive director Erik Kirschbaum, the first American to hold that position, will elaborate on those changes and answer your questions at the alumni meeting along with the new U.S. coordinator in Washington D.C. Annette Raveneau – who is also an alum. The RIAS Berlin Commission is hoping to expand and deepen the alumni network now that more than 1,500 journalists have taken part in the German-American exchange programs over the last quarter century. With more than 750 American alumni and 750 German alumni, the RIAS Berlin Commission has an enormous reservoir of journalists on both sides of the Atlantic eager to build up and further develop the exchange network with new programs especially designed for alumni.
Please take a look at the new RIAS Berlin Commission website (riasberlin.org) and register yourself in the RIAS Community private area to help broaden and expand the network.
Please RSVP whether you will be able to attend the alumni meeting on September 7 firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so we can plan on stocking enough food and beverages.
June 27, 2017
RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION 2017 spring program concludes with stop at NATO headquarters
Twelve American broadcast journalists from eight states and a dozen networks across the United States completed a whirlwind trip of Germany and Brussels with a four-hour visit to the NATO headquarters in Brussels following a day of talks at the European Union headquarters just before a summit meeting in the capital city of the EU. The American journalists also had an interesting visit to the Brussels offices of Deutsche Welle TV, where former RIAS fellow and DW Brussels bureau chief Max Hofmann explained how his DW team in Brussels not only covers the EU and NATO from Brussels but also serves as the “rapid response” force for Deutsche Welle across Europe to cover breaking news across the continent.
One of the many highlights on this spring’s program was the frequent meetings with RIAS fellows from Germany, who had many chances to meet and spend time with the American fellows. With more than 1,500 fellows on both sides of the Atlantic over the last 25 years, the RIAS Berlin Commission alumni grows larger each year and the networking will hopefully grow more extensive in the months and years to come.
June 18, 2017
Bush pays heartfelt tribute to RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION co-founder Kohl
U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who founded the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION together with Helmut Kohl
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who founded the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION together with Helmut Kohl 25 years ago, paid a heartfelt tribute to the former German Chancellor and his close friend who died at the age of 87 on Friday. The two leaders, who worked together to end the Cold War and pave the way for German unification in 1990, were also jointly behind the creation of the German-American exchange program for broadcast journalists in 1992 that has carried on the spirit of the famous Cold War-era Radio In American Sector (RIAS) broadcasting network that had served listeners in Berlin and beamed news and music across the border into East Germany until 1992.
More than 1,500 American and German broadcast journalists have had the chance to spend time learning about each other’s respective country on the transatlantic exchange programs operated by the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION over the last 25 years thanks to the endowment set up by the German and U.S. governments in 1992. At the annual RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION media awards ceremony just five days before Kohl’s death, executive director Erik Kirschbaum and RIAS Fellows such as Ingo Zamperoni and Petra Gute paid tribute the “foresight and wisdom” of political leaders such as Kohl and Bush for creating the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION.
Kohl and Bush had both sent letters of congratulations to the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION five years ago on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.
“I’d like to express my thanks to all those who have helped to make the BERLIN RIAS COMMISSION the successful project that it has become,” Kohl wrote in May 2012 and noted that more than 1,000 journalists from both countries had participated to that point in exchanges. “You’ve got a special responsibility as multipliers in your daily work in helping to actively promote a better understanding of each other’s country. That was the hope that George Bush and I had when we founded the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION 20 years ago. Our hopes are as important today as 20 years ago.”
Bush wrote of RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION in 2012: “We share your pride in the fact that more than one thousand American and German journalists from hundreds of radio and television stations have already participated in this program, and we wish you continued success in the years ahead. Keep up the good work.”
June 13, 2017
Prize winners celebrated 25 years of RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION at gala ceremony
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION celebrated its 25th anniversary on Monday, June 12 in Berlin with a gala fest at the historic RIAS Funkhaus broadcasting building together with more than 200 RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION fellows from the last quarter century and prize winners from seven categories of this year’s distinguished Media Prize awards.
ARD Tagesthemen anchor Ingo Zamperoni shared his life-changing experiences as a RIAS Fellow in the United States back in 2004 in a keynote speech, as did MC Petra Gute of RBB TV, who was a fellow in the United States in 2000. Kent Logsdon, acting American ambassador to Germany and honorary chairman of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION exchange program, and Dr. Willi Steul, the director general of Deutschlandfunk radio where the program is based, spoke about the intrinsic value and lasting importance of transatlantic exchanges like the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION.
Jan Böhmermann and Ralf Kabelka of ZDF’s Neo Magazin Royale also expressed their delight at the ceremony to be honored with the Special Jury Prize award for their entertaining, satirical and yet prescient look at the mood in the United States just before the election. “I think he’s going to win,” Böhmermann speaks into the camera, referring to Republican candidate Donald Trump, in the film that was aired just five days before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8, 2016. “I think he’s going to pull it off,” Böhmermann adds. Kabelka told the audience how he had started his career in journalism working for RIAS in the very same building nearly 30 years earlier.
In the radio category, Rebekka Endler of DRadio Wissen’s report “White Cop, Black Kids” won this year‘s prize for her gripping examination of racism in a small Bible Belt town in Arkansas. The Digital Media Prize was won by a Deutsche Welle team led by Ines Pohl that took a comprehensive, multimedia, multilingual look at what was on the hearts and minds of Americans before the election in a report called “#whatAmerica do you want? The Disunited United States.”
ARD correspondent Sandra Ratzow was awarded the TV Award in the Short Film category for her moving report called “Getrennte Familien — Wiedersehen am Hochsicherheitszaun” about how separated Mexican families meet on opposite sides of a high-security fence on the U.S.-Mexico border in California.
There were also two awards handed out to RIAS Fellows honoring their work for their media after their RIAS fellowships. Martina Buttler (a RIAS fellow in the United States in 2003) was honored for her two outstanding radio stories from the United States about Donald Trump and undocumented aliens living in fear of deportation while Paige Sutherland of New Hampshire public radio (who came to Germany with RIAS in 2016) drew from her three-week RIAS fellowship in Germany to take a deep dive into how policy makers and social workers in Berlin have tackled a problem that also plagues her home state of New Hampshire: drug addiction.
June 12, 2017
Whitaker, Lieberman from CBS “60 Minutes” in Berlin for RIAS Media Prize. A “60 Minutes” story about the difference between prison systems in Germany and the United States won the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION’s television award that will be presented at a gala ceremony at the RIAS building on Monday in Berlin. CBS correspondent Bill Whitaker and producer Marc E. Lieberman came to Berlin for the awards ceremony, and joined a group of RIAS Fellows and Commissioner Helena Kane Finn in a Berlin beer garden on Sunday.
Even though “60 Minutes” has won many many Peabody and DuPont awards, the highest honors in broadcast journalism, American Television awards and Murrow awards, they both noted with a big smile that this was the first time the CBS show had won a RIAS Media Prize award. “We’re very happy to be here,” said Whitaker, who also stopped by at the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION office (see picture). “It’s a great honor,” added Lieberman, of the RIAS Media Prize that has been awarded every year since 1995 to promote understanding between the United States and Germany in broadcasting.
RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION to celebrate 25 years at Awards Ceremony
June 12, 2017
A quarter century after it was created, the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION will celebrate the 25th anniversary milestone on June 12 at the annual RIAS Media Awards Ceremony at the RIAS building in Berlin by paying tribute to some of the best transatlantic radio and TV reports by German and American journalists in the last year.
More than 1,500 American and German journalists have had the chance to spend multiple weeks learning about each other’s respective countries and broadcast media through the RIAS Berlin Commission exchange programs.
RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION is a bi-national foundation created in 1992 after the Cold War in recognition of the work of the RIAS network — Radio in the American Sector — that was also known as the “voice of the free world” from 1946 to 1993.
June 7, 2017
Two Week Germany Spring Program, June 12–24, 2017
Twelve American broadcast journalists from eight different states from across the United States will start a two-week RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION fellowship in Berlin on Monday, June 12 as the German-American exchange program operating together with the RTDNA/F celebrates its 25th anniversary. They will spend the first week in Berlin for talks on current political, economic and media issues.
The radio, TV and digital journalists will be getting a timely glimpse of German politics just three months before the elections on September 24, meeting with German journalists, politicians and many other speakers. They will also get the chance to learn more about the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by visiting two of Martin Luther’s home towns in Eisenach and Erfurt, before visiting one of the country’s leading broadcast media centers, Cologne, for more talks with senior broadcasting officials, and then crossing over the Belgian border to Brussels, where the fellows will meet European Union officials as well as visit the new NATO headquarters.
May 31, 2017
Two Week Germany Fall Program, Sept. 17–30, 2017
14 U.S.-based fellows selected for September exchange in Germany
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION and the RTDNF have selected 14 producers, reporters, and editors from across the United States to become Fellows in Europe in the middle of September during the height of the German election campaign. It will be the largest group of American broadcast journalists dispatched to Europe in many years as part of the longstanding RTNDF/RIAS partnership, a reflection of the high interest in the German election and program restructuring.
This is the 24th year of the partnership between RIAS and the RTDNF, which has sent more than 700 Fellows to Germany. The fall 2017 German/American Journalist Exchange Program will run from September 17–30 and include stops in Brussels, Berlin, Potsdam, Wittenberg and Hamburg. Sponsored by the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION, it will feature briefings with top-level German political and media players, meetings with international journalists and with officials at the European Union headquarters and NATO headquarters.
“There could not be a more important time for our Fellows to be traveling to and reporting from Germany and Europe,” said Mike Cavender, RTDNF Executive Director. “The change in approach by President Trump toward our Allies in the EU has created an uncertainty around the world which requires American journalists to be more knowledgeable than ever. The RIAS program provides them vital tools to aid in that understanding.”
Since 1994, RTDNF has administered this media fellowship as part of its German/American Journalist Exchange Program with the RIAS. The next application deadline for the 2018 program in Europe is November 1, 2017. For information on the RTDNF Germany fellowship or the RIAS Awards program, visit rtdna.org or contact Mike Cavender at email@example.com or Erik Kirschbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 31, 2017
EBINGER LEAVING ROLE WITH RTNDF RIAS PROGRAM
Jon Ebinger, who has helped make the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION program a success in both the United States and Germany, will be leaving his position as the point person for the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION for the RTDNF, effective June 1. He will be succeeded by Laurie Bley and Annette Raveneau, two U.S.-based former RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION Fellows.
Ebinger, who was a RIAS Fellow himself in 2002 and worked as a producer at ABC’s “Nightline” for many years, has been the face of RIAS in the United States since 2005 and helped hundreds of American broadcast journalists gain valuable experience and knowledge about both the political world and how the media in Germany and Europe work.
For many German journalists on three-week fellowships to the United States, Ebinger has also designed presentation-filled program weeks in major Americans cities. He has represented RIAS at annual “Excellence in Journalism” (EIJ) conventions across the United States, led panels for RIAS in German cities, and in 2015 was awarded the distinguished “Col. Barney Oldfield Award” for exceptional service to the RTDNF.
“Jon has been a very strong proponent of the RIAS Berlin program from the start,” said Mike Cavender, Executive Director of RTDNA/F. “His diligence in insuring that our Fellows have the best possible experience during their time in Germany and the United States has helped make the Exchange one of the most popular and effective training programs we offer.”
Since 1994, RTDNF has administered this media fellowship as part of its German/American Journalist Exchange Program with the RIAS. For information on the RTDNF Germany fellowship or the RIAS Awards program, visit rtdna.org or contact Mike Cavender at email@example.com or Erik Kirschbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RTDNF, a 501 (c) 3 educational foundation, was created to help RTDNA members embody and uphold the standards of ethical journalism and promote leadership in the newsroom. RTDNF offers the electronic news community professional development opportunities, an open forum for the discussion of ethics, assistance with the development of leadership skills, support of First Amendment issues and the exchange of ideas and perspectives from electronic journalists worldwide. The Foundation also provides scholarships and fellowships to aspiring and early-career electronic journalists.
About RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION is a bi-national organization established in 1992 to promote understanding between the United States and Germany in the field of broadcasting. Each exchange program is fully financed by the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION, a non-profit, non-governmental organization. There have been a total of 1,500 German and American broadcast journalists who have taken part in the exchange programs in the last 25 years.
April 16, 2017
President George H.W. Bush congratulates
George H.W. Bush, the co-founder of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION, met Dr. Hildegard Boucsein at his office in Houston recently and expressed to her his heartfelt congratulations to the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION for its first 25 years of transatlantic exchanges.
Boucsein, a long-time member of the Commission, proudly told Bush, who was the 41st President, that 1,502 German and American broadcast journalists have now taken part in the exchanges in each other’s respective countries on programs that have kept alive the spirit of the original RIAS broadcaster, which was a popular radio and TV station in the American sector of Berlin during the Cold War. The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION was established in 1992 and co-founded by Bush and Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl.
In his Houston office together with John Schmitz, a former White House Counsel to President Bush, George H.W. Bush asked Boucsein to convey his congratulations and best wishes to the board, the leadership and staff of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION on its 25th anniversary.
April 4, 2017
Making the most out of a RIAS fellowship. German broadcast journalists on the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION fellowships in the USA often bring their recording devices with them to do reporting for stories for their networks back home in Germany — in between attending dozens of talks and presentations with the group about politics, important issues and ordinary life in the USA.
In the course of her research for a series of stories for DeutschlandRadio on polarization in the United States, Sabine Adler ended up doing some reporting in and near St Louis that her hosts at the NPR affiliate used for their own story on the subject. Here is the NPR report on the desecration of Jewish cemeteries that gave Adler a reporting credit: Read more…
Congratulations to Sabine for making the most out of her time in the United States and helping NPR make a good story even better.
March 31, 2017
German journalists get lesson on U.S. optimism in NJ high school (Journalistenprogramm Frühling)
Ten German radio and TV journalists visiting the United States got the chance to see an American high school in Hoboken, New Jersey from the inside at the end of their three-week study tour on Thursday – Frank Sinatra’s home town. The friendly 17- and 18-year-old Americans took the German visitors by the hand and gave them wonderful small-group tours of their classrooms, gym, labs and cafeteria.
But maybe, without even realizing it, they also showed the German journalists something far more important than the bricks and chalkboards — an irrepressible optimism in the United States and a can-do spirit that, no matter who you are and where you come from, there is no reason you can’t have big dreams.
1,502 and counting! The 1,500-threshold has been passed.
The ten German journalists participating in the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION’s spring program in the United States has brought the grand total of participants over the last 25 years to 1,502.
The Germans have been getting an illuminating glimpse into the major changes taking place in Washington in their meetings with think tanks, American and German journalists, and non-profit organizations as well as meeting with some American fellows from past years. They will be heading off to their “station weeks” at broadcasting stations small and large across the country before coming back together in New York for the third and final week at the end of March.
The group in the United States is the first of four exchange programs in 2017 that kicks off a special year for the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION— its 25th anniversary. The program was created by the German and U.S. governments in 1992 to promote the exchange of broadcast journalists in those two countries to further “mutual understanding” between Germans and Americans.
March 21, 2017
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION is proud to announce the winners of this year’s RIAS Media Awards. The awards ceremony that will also celebrate 25 years of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION will take place on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the RIAS Funkhaus am Hans-Rosenthal-Platz in Berlin, and all RIAS fellows and past winners are cordially invited to attend the ceremony in the historic building.
The panel of seven distinguished journalists from the United States and Germany met in Berlin to pick the winners in TV, Radio and Digital Media categories. The jury members had lively discussions and were duly impressed with the high quality of entries in this year’s competition, a truly exciting year for journalism that was heavily influenced by the U.S. presidential election.