News & Events
May 27, 2020
WUSA9 anchor Larry Miller talks about changes in USA with Covid-19
Larry Miller, an anchor at WUSA9 TV in Washington DC and a RIAS alumni, said that the coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of new challenges in his job and that there has been a lot of stress involved in covering the news. But he said it has also been an extremely interesting time in his career, which began in Oregon and included a stop in Alabama before he ended up in Washington DC six years ago.
“All interviews have to be done by zoom and Skype and FaceTime or telephone,” Miller told a group of 21 RIAS alumni and candidates in a videoconference. “Our job is about interviewing people. Zoom and Skype have made it convenient and have allowed us to maintain safety. But you certainly lose that human connection that makes storytelling so great. Not being able to talk to people face to face — often there’s texture and color in an interview that’s lost when you don’t get to have that human connection because you may not always understand through body language what the follow up question or comment on those things is that make people visibly uncomfortable and to then go back to that and ask ‘Why do you feel uncomfortable when I ask you that?’. You can’t comment on those things that might make people uncomfortable. I can’t ask those things because I can only see their neck and face. Those things have made it challenging in some respect, but I think we’re doing the best we can navigating that.”
Miller, who made an interesting video for future RIAS participants after his fellowship in 2019, said that viewers seem to be hungry for non-Covid-19 news at times and pointed out that ratings at his station have risen by 250%. “Ratings are through the roof. We’re seeing a substantial increase in viewership. That’s great for job security,” he said. “People want context.”
Miller, who was nominated for an Emmy award this year, said he thinks the media have been slow off the mark to report on the impact on small business from the coronavirus crisis that has sent the unemployment rate soaring and put strains on many companies, large and small. “I think the story that a lot of people are missing now centers on the business fallout that we’ve had from this. We’re starting to see a lot of businesses, especially minority-owned businesses, not getting access to loans. One study put it that close to 95% of minority-owned businesses applying for these loans are not getting them. There is this economic small business story that we’re not paying attention to.”
Miller said it has been an extraordinary period for journalism. The political divisions in the United States have started to have an impact on the coronavirus discussions, he said.
“It’s been stressful but it’s also been interesting,” he said. “And I think we are just trying to be responsive to the viewers in the best way we possibly can and we’re trying to be respectful as well.”
May 26, 2020
German TV medical correspondent sheds light on country’s Covid-19 track record
Germany managed to come through the first phase of the coronavirus crisis in relatively good shape thanks to a combination of good luck and good preparation, German TV medical correspondent Dr. Christoph Specht said in a RIAS Zoom Talk meeting on Tuesday. A regular commentator on medical news for German networks such as NTV, RTL and ZDF, Specht explained to a group of about 30 RIAS fellows, alumni and candidates from the United States and Germany that a lot of testing and a high number of intensive care beds in Germany also played an important role.
“First of all let me say we’re just in the beginning of the pandemic, we’re not through yet,” Specht said. “If things went well up until now, it’s just the situation now and not the end. There was luck too for Germany, just pure luck. Italy was hit first in Europe so we had an advance warning of two to four weeks before it came to Germany so we saw what could happen. If Germany had been the first country hit in Europe, the situation might have been different.”
Specht added that Germany was also lucky that many of those first infected by Covid-19 were relatively young and healthy who contracted the virus while on skiing vacations in Italy and Austria. He noted that senior citizens are more vulnerable to the virus. That is why the case fatality rate in Germany was under 1.0 in the early weeks and has risen to just 4.6 now compared to levels above 12 in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn also credited testing and intensive care beds for the relatively low numbers in Germany.
Specht, who is based in Düsseldorf, said that another contributing factor helping Germany was that there is universal health care in Germany available to everyone. He said Germany also started with far more intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants (35) than other countries in the United States and even raised the number to 39 beds per 100,000 — many of which were not needed. He also said that Germans proved to be dutiful in following the guidelines from the governments and health authorities.
“I think that played a role too,” he said. “It might be a piece of the German DNA. But in the beginning people were really frightened by the scenes on the evening news from Italy and Spain, and they wanted to do everything they could to avoid the pandemic. In the beginning people really did everything they could to reduce their risks. That helped a lot.”
Asked about criticism from Italy that Germany and the rest of the European Union should have done more to help Italy, he agreed. “We could have done more,” he said.
Specht said that even though the numbers of infected and reproduction rates in Germany are low and under control in most of the country, there was an understandable fear of a second wave. “We don’t know if there will be a second wave. We don’t know if it will strike in a couple of weeks or a couple of months or in the autumn or winter. I believe it will hit us in the winter.”
Germany will likely be a case study in the future for what might work and not work in a pandemic, Specht said. He added that no one knows for sure if the extensive lockdown measures the government implemented on March 22 worked or not. “We don’t know what measures did what, what effect they had. We don’t know if the lockdown helped. I personally believe the lockdown, especially at the beginning, was the right measure to take. And it’s a good idea now to loosen the lockdown as we are in Germany.”
May 25, 2020
RIAS Zoom Talks lined-up for this and next week
RIAS Zoom Talks will resume on May 26th with a focus on how Germany has handled the coronavirus crisis compared to other countries hit harder.
German medical correspondent Christoph Specht from Cologne will be talking about Germany’s response to the coronavirus on Tuesday May 26th, and WUSA TV anchor Larry Miller will join us from Washington DC on Wednesday May 27th to discuss how the pandemic has changed his world. On Wednesday June 3rd, we will welcome Politico’s Chief European Correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig.
Christoph Specht is one of Germany’s leading medical experts on television and can be seen regularly on NTV, RTL and ZDF explaining, among other things, how the country is getting through the coronavirus crisis.
Larry Miller is a RIAS alumni and a midday anchor on WUSA9. Inspired by his RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship in 2019, he made this video to help future RIAS participants prepare for their RIAS experience.
Matthew Karnitschnig is a member of the RIAS Berlin Commission Board and has written a number of insightful stories on Germany’s response to Covid-19.
These talks will include ample opportunities for Q&A. The conversations will be held on the Zoom platform and will be on-the-record unless otherwise stated beforehand. We hope these sessions insprire reflection and possibly ideas for stories as well as offer everyone an opportunity to think differently about some issues. These are aimed at allowing participants to learn more about German and American issues and, above all, to connect you more closely to the RIAS Network.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for log in details.
May 20, 2020
Gargiulo says New York TV viewers growing weary of gloomy news
WNBC co-anchor Michael Gargiulo said in a “RIAS Zoom Talk” on Wednesday that he sensed TV viewers in New York were growing weary of a steady drumbeat of depressing half-hour news bulletins on the latest numbers of Covid-19 fatalities and were yearning for some uplifting news or angles on the story different from those that have dominated the media for months. So Gargiulo, a RIAS alumni and co-leader of the New York alumni chapter, urged his station to try to find other ways to report the story without always emphasizing the latest death figures at the top of the news bulletins.
“I asked our producers a couple of weeks ago, I said ‘Let’s not do that every half hour. We need to give out the numbers of people dying from Covid, but let’s put them in the context of a story’. I just don’t think people want to hear every half hour how many are dead. I don’t think that tells the whole story of what we’re doing. We also started a franchise, a set of stories called ‘Grateful 4 You’ because we’re Channel 4. And we run stories every day on things like the chef who is out of work who makes lunch for first responders or the college graduates who are buying food for people who can’t get out. These are remarkable stories of people who are doing remarkable things.”
Gargiulo, who also made a short video on his early morning routine to and at work, talked candidly about that and other issues such as changes at work and at home since the outbreak of the pandemic. He said more people than ever are watching the TV news these days, but the problem for networks like WNBC is that they have lost a lot of advertisers — “and that’s going to cause a lot of economic pain.”
In a wide-ranging talk to about 30 RIAS alumni and candidates for future RIAS programs, Gargiulo also spoke about the changes he and his fellow New Yorkers are facing and will be facing for a long time to come. “Everything we love about cities has changed,” Gargiulo said. “All cities are facing these changes. Cities thrived because people loved that lifestyle. Now we’re trying to figure out what’s next.”
Gargiulo also noted that the coronavirus crisis had worsened some of the political and regional divisions inside the United States. He said that New Yorkers are not always welcome in other states because of the high numbers of infected New Yorkers. He told stories of some New Yorkers who had difficulties driving in Florida with their New York license plates and others who went out of their way to get rental cars with non-New York license plates.
He also talked about the pitfalls of being a public figure in the New York area.
“Yesterday I went for a run with my wife and realized shortly after starting that I forgot my mask. My wife said don’t worry about it. But I thought ‘oh no, I got to go home and get it’,” he said, concerned that his violation of the rule could cause a stir. “I’m very careful when I’m out. We’re always liable to be captured on video doing something. So I always have to obey all the rules all the time.”
There will be two more “RIAS Zoom Talks” next week – on Tuesday May 26 with Germany’s best-known TV doctor Christoph Specht (N-TV) at 1700 Berlin time (1100 EST) and on Wednesday May 27 for a talk with WUSA9 anchor Larry Miller at 1600 Berlin time (1000 EST). Write to email@example.com for log-in details.
May 19, 2020
Beyer says more connecting Germany and US than dividing it, in RIAS Zoom Talk
The German government’s transatlantic coordinator, Peter Beyer, said in a meeting with German and US journalists that there is far more that connects the two countries than divides them, and expressed his hope that there could one day be a comprehensive free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. Beyer, who is also a RIAS Berlin Commission board member and travels to the United States on average once per month, said he was disheartened by recent opinion polls showing that German views of China are improving while opinions on the United States are declining.
“My transatlantic heart is bleeding,” Beyer said of those surveys in a virtual Zoom talk with about 32 RIAS Berlin Commission alumni and candidates for future programs. “There is more that unites us than divides us. We have to see how we can overcome some of the problems.”
Beyer, an enthusiastic supporter of German-US relations, has had to put all that travel to the
United States on hold since March. He said he is not sure whether conditions will allow him to travel to the United States again this year. He said he hoped talks for a free trade agreement could start as soon as possible.
Beyer is a member of the German parliament in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservative party and also answered questions from the RIAS alumni about how Germany has managed to get through the coronavirus crisis so far. He said there was likely a combination of factors that helped the country, including Merkel’s leadership.
“Angela Merkel was a good crisis manager before and proved to be the case this time as well,” he said, referring to how Merkel led Germany through the 2008 financial crisis and the euro-zone currency crisis that followed in the ensuing years. “The biggest reason is that the Germans, by the vast majority, were living by the rules. They realised it was a big emergency and played by the rules for a long time. That’s probably the most important contribution.”
Beyer added: “There is no easy answer for that. We’re far from being out of it. We had a lot of intensive care units, more than we needed it turns out. We were well-equipped. We were not well- equipped with masks. We found a good proportionate way of restricting freedom rights and with lockdown restrictions. I think it was a very good format. The federal government and the 16 regional governments coordinated their moves. It was very calmly managed. The lockdown restrictions were not as harsh as in other parts of the world. We’re having modest lifting of the restrictions now. It was time we started lifting the restrictions.”
Beyer said he was unsure how the coronavirus crisis would change the transatlantic relationship, but reckoned it would have an impact: “I can’t say right now how much the pandemic is changing the transatlantic relations. It seems to me the situation will leave footprints and make changes that will be there in the transatlantic relations for some time.”
Beyer also noted the US election campaign this year is a lot different than in the past years due to the pandemic. He said that in normal times, the high unemployment level and difficult economic situation in the United States would be a problem for the incumbent. But he said that this year, with the pandemic looming, the situation is far from clear. He said it was important for Germans to keep in mind the November election would also be for Congress and not just a presidential race.
“We have a strong interest in multi-lateralism. We sometimes criticise the U.S. administration. We love the United States. I think everyone in parliament and the federal government knows how important the American friends are for our future, for our sheer existence and for our prosperity. But sometimes these days our American friends give us a headache when we oftentimes seem to be aligned and with similar interests, such as in Iran, but we totally seem to disagree on the way to reach these aims. We have similar interests with China. We sometimes take different approaches.”
The next RIAS Zoom talk will take place on Wednesday, May 20 at 1600 Berlin time with WNBC anchor Michael Gargiulo, who will talk about how the pandemic has changed both his life and news network in New York. German medical doctor Christoph Specht of NTV and RTL networks will speak on Tuesday May 26 about Germany’s handling of the pandemic and RIAS alumni, Larry Miller, will talk about his work during the coronavirus crisis as an anchor at WUSA9 in Washington DC.
May 18, 2020
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: The RIAS Zoom Meeting with WNBC New York Today Show co-anchor Michael Gargiulo has been moved from Thursday to Wednesday May 20 at 1600 Berlin time (1000 EST).
May 15, 2020
RIAS Zoom Talks kick off with meetings with Peter Beyer, WNBC’s Michael Gargiulo
The RIAS Berlin Commission will be starting a series of RIAS Zoom Talks on May 19 and is inviting alumni, candidates and anyone interested to join us for these regular virtual meetings with newsmakers in both Germany and the United States as well as journalists from the RIAS alumni network. These talks will include ample opportunities for Q&A. The conversations will be held on Zoom and generally on-the-record unless otherwise stated. The hope is that these sessions might help inspire ideas for stories, for thinking differently about some issues, for learning more about German and American issues, and above all connect you more closely to the RIAS network.
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for log-on details for the Zoom meetings. Here are the guest speakers for the first two meetings next week:
May 19, 4 p.m.-5.15 p.m. Berlin time (10 a.m.-11.15a.m. EST)
Peter Beyer, a senior member of the German parliament, will talk about German-American
relations, the coronavirus crisis in Germany and his thoughts on the U.S. election. Peter is one of the most committed advocates of strong transatlantic relations with the United States in the Reichstag. He is also the German government’s Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation. He studied law in the United States at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is also a board member of the RIAS Berlin Commission. May 19, 4 p.m.-5.15 p.m. Berlin time (10 a.m.-11.15a.m. EST)
Michael Gargiulo, a leader of the New York RIAS alumni chapter, will talk about his work as the co-anchor of “Today in New York” weekday mornings on WNBC in New York, the upcoming US election, and all the changes caused by the coronavirus crisis that has hit New York so hard. Michael grew up in New York and has worked at networks in West Virgina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Minnesota and Washington DC. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and dedicated RIAS alumni who also serves on the RIAS Berlin Commission Media Prize jury. May 21, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Berlin time (11 a.m.-12 noon EST)
May 10, 2020
Virtual meetings with RIAS alumni groups in Germany, USA
Dozens of RIAS Berlin Commission fellows from the United States and Germany took part in a series of lively virtual reunions in recent days. Many of the alumni shared stories about the situations at their networks, cities and states during the coronavirus crisis.
They also brainstormed about ideas for further virtual meetings on Zoom for alumni in both the United States and Germany. Many expressed a desire to take part in talks with experts, newsmakers as well as journalists in each other’s countries to learn more about how each country is dealing with the pandemic that has caused such disruption around the world.
There were 18 alumni in one Zoom meeting on Saturday who talked about their November 2019 alumni program to Berlin around the time Germany celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many in that alumni group had filed stories back home to their stations on the events in Berlin.
There were 10 alumni in another Zoom meeting on Saturday who reminisced about their September 2019 program to Brussels, Cologne, Erfurt and Berlin. Several of the fellows on that program have already moved onto to new jobs and two of those participants had in the meantime become fathers. The meeting was organized by Bryan Weakland of MSNBC in New York.
There was a dozen alumni in another Zoom meeting on Friday in New York City when the NYC alumni chapter had a Virtual Biergarten happy hour in a meeting organized by NYC chapter leader Michael Garguilo.
The New York alumni had a lot of brainstorming ideas on possible guest speakers for future meetings with alumni — a wish list headed by such luminaries as former RIAS honorary chairman Phillip Murphy, who is now the governor of New Jersey.
There was also a virtual meeting on Friday of a senior editors group from November 2017 that travelled around Texas to learn more about border security and immigration — a hot issue in the state and across the country then as well as it is now. There were five participants from that small group and they even managed to clink their glasses in a virtual toast to each other at one point.
The RIAS Berlin Commission is currently working on expanding the Virtual Zoom meeting programs to include a number of guest speakers from both Germany and the United States. Peter Beyer, a member of the RIAS board and the German government’s coordinator for transatlantic issues, is planning to give one of the first such Virtual Talks to RIAS alumni and candidates on May 19. More details on that and other virtual talks will be announced soon.
May 2, 2020
RIAS alumni group meets online for reunion after Fall 2018 program
Twelve American journalists who took part in a RIAS program to Germany in 2018 reconnected for a virtual online reunion on Saturday from locations across the United States in three different time zones.
Determined not to let the coronavirus crisis get in the way, the 12 Americans from the fall of 2018 group came together for a virtual meeting on Zoom for more than two hours.
They shared stories of how they and their TV or radio stations or media outlets are dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown and how they have been in the 18 months since their two-week tour of Brussels, Cologne, Mainz and Berlin in September 2018.
The group that bonded so well during the RIAS program in Europe has stayed in contact over the last 18 months through their WhatsApp group — sharing news of career moves, important stories they were working on, their travels and some of their family developments among lots of other things.
Some of the fall 2018 alumni had taken part in RIAS alumni gatherings in Washington DC, New York and in Berlin — as well as at the annual RTDNA EIJ convention in San Antonio, Texas in 2019.
There was a longing, nevertheless, to connect again as a group.
“We should do a virtual HH (happy hour) soon,” Latese Clark in Washington DC suggested recently. The idea caught on fire and all 12 members of their group quickly agreed to take part. One member of the group, Justin Campbell, had his smartphone camera set up on the dashboard of his car as he drove around in Florida. Another member, Kane Faranbaugh, apologized for missing the first half hour of the reunion because he admitted he got the 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) start confused with his Central Standard Time (CST) home base in Illinois.
Alongside Latese Clark, members of the virtual reunion included: Jessica Prater (CNN New York), Bonnie North (public radio in Canton, New York), Gitzel Puente (KJRH TV, Tulsa, Oklahoma), Carol McKinley (freelance ABC, CBS Littleton, Colorado), Judith Synderman (freelance Washington DC), Kenya Woodard (CTTV, Tampa, Florida), Andrew Lapin (Editor, Detroit Jewish News), Justin Campbell (WJXT TV, Jacksonville, Florida), Bryan Weakland (MSNBC, New York), Kane Faranbaugh (Voice of America, Midwest, Illinois).
The alumni talked about the different stages of lockdowns and reopenings in their parts of the country as well as the impact that the coronavirus crisis was having on their work — many have been working in home office for much of the last two months. They also shared their experiences about the economic havoc being caused by the pandemic and the shutting of businesses in their cities and states.
They all shared fond memories of their RIAS trip to Germany and alumni gatherings that some have attended since. There will hopefully be a big RIAS alumni reunion in Berlin with about 30 participants in the fall of 2021 around the time of the next scheduled German election and many said they hoped to take part in that.
April 24, 2020
RIAS Media Prize winners for Digital Video talk about their award-winning report
Here is a short interview with Han Park. Together with his colleague David Diwiak, they are the winners of the RIAS Digital Award 2020 for their report entitled “Veggie vs. Labor?”
Question: Where did you get the idea to do your story?
Park: Veggie products have become more and more popular in German grocery stores. Most people are not critical about the ingredients at all. As I am a journalist and have a passion for food, I was interested in researching meat alternatives and the announced “revolutions” on the market. My vegetarian colleague David was a perfect partner.
Question: When and exactly where did it air?
Park: It aired on STRG_F, our YouTube-channel by funk, NDR and Panorama. The publishing date was 4th June 2019.
Question: What’s the bigger story you hoped to tell?
Park: We asked ourselves how and what we will eat in a few years. Can fake meat save the world? What are the ingredients? How much money do you need to save the world?
Question: Do you like veggie hamburgers?
Park: It really depends: I dislike seitan burgers. Veggie burgers can be good, when they don’t imitate meat. But mostly I prefer butcher’s burger meat. David is vegetarian.
Question: Did you like them more before or after the story?
Park: While making the story, I really fell in love with the taste of a vegetarian burger that “bleeds” and tastes like a meat burger. Driven by biotechnology, the evolution of meat alternatives has reached a new milestone. The future can taste good.
Question: How much money did you spend on all these hamburgers?
Park: A lot. Fake meat is way more expensive than real meat. Or animal-meat is too cheap compared to meat alternatives.
Question: How much was the most expensive one?
Park: We had a chicken nugget made of cell-based meat. The company told us that the nugget cost about $100.
Question: How much time did you spend on your story – talking with the protagonists and others?
Park: We spent almost half a year from the start of research till finishing the story.
Question: Was it difficult to find the protagonists in your story or did they fall into your lap?
Park: It was really, really, really, really hard to find the protagonists. Many companies have started to fundraise money. A few companies have started to research on cell-based meat, but the technique is top secret and not yet market-ready. We contacted almost all of the companies in the world, and fewer than five have produced more than a gram of cell-based meat. Only one company has gave us the opportunity to eat it.
Question: Do you think things in the United States serve as a prototype for Germany? Or vice versa? Or are the two countries just too different in too many ways?
Park: In terms of start-up entrepreneurships, the United States are a prototype. We started our research in San Francisco, it is the center of cell-based start-ups. The latest big businesses like Uber, twitter and Google have their headquarters in that dynamic area. The fastfood scene is awesome – maybe the best I have ever experienced.
Question: Do you think Germans are open enough to learning from the experiences of the United States?
Park: I can’t say for Germans, but I hope everybody is open to learning from others. But it’s always important to ask questions.
Question: Your story is incredibly neutral and non-partisan – anyone watching that story would probably never know if you preferred US or German veggie food. How difficult was that to do? How important is that for journalism?
Park: Nobody cares about politics when it comes to food. The most important thing is the taste. But most of all, we are journalists. We always look for a non-ideologic approach. It doesn’t depend on countries.
Question: Anything else you’d like to add?
Park: We enjoyed the research. We are happy that we have tasted the future of meat. And we are keen to see if cell-based meat can save the world.
April 17, 2020
RIAS student program alumni Ailport wins Congress-Bundestag Fellowship
RIAS alumni Michelle Ailport of Arizona State University took part in the RIAS summer exchange program in 2019. After getting her first exposure to Germany on that three-week fellowship, Ailport applied for the “Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals” fellowship in the fall and got accepted. Here is a short interview with Ailport about RIAS and the Congress-Bundestag program:
Question: Congratulations on getting the Bundestag scholarship. How did you hear about it?
Ailport: I heard about the Congress-Bundestag program from Andrew Adair back in November. It came across his email and he shared it with the summer 2019 RIAS student group. I decided to give the application a shot and I’m glad I did.
Question: How did your RIAS experience help you prepare for the application–and did it help your chances?
Ailport: My RIAS experience definitely prepared me to apply for CBYX. Aside from inspiring my need to come back to Germany, everything I learned on the summer program helped me during the interview process.
Question: What were some of the lasting things you learned during the RIAS summer exchange program?
Ailport: I’m still in awe of the media industry in Germany. I was working at Arizona PBS in the fall and I think I made my supervisor a little jealous after sharing what journalism is like in Germany (especially considering the robust budget for German public broadcasting media). Aside from the things that I learned, I’m thankful for all the connections I made and have kept since traveling to Berlin.
Question: What does the Congress-Bundestag scholarship entail? How long will you be in Berlin? What will you be doing?
Ailport: The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals is a fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and the U.S. State Department. Each year it supports an exchange for 75 Americans and 75 German young professionals ages 18 and a half to 24 years old to live, study and work in each country. Normally the program would begin in late July or early August, but given the current climate, the program will not begin until 2021. Normally it’s a year long but the official program has been shortened by Covid-19. If I can I plan on staying in Germany through the end of 2021 past the program end date permitting and take the whole year off from ASU.
Question: Do you speak German? Are you planning to learn it?
Ailport: Eine bisschen. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a German classroom so I’m excited to grow my language skills. I’m learning Polish over the summer through an intensive program at ASU so I’ll likely get to use that while in Germany as well. As an aside note, if anyone is down to help me study or practice, I would love that. I’ll start intensive German language study October through December.
Question: What are you career goals? How might the Congress-Bundestag fellowship help?
Ailport: I’m currently studying journalism and public policy. While I’m still exploring how I’ll spend my future career, I know RIAS and CBYX have been and will be the hallmarks of my experience as a young professional. In Germany, I’ll likely seek an internship in journalism/media or government.
April 6, 2020
RIAS Media Prize winners talk about their award-winning reports
As part of a series looking more closely at the 2020 RIAS Berlin Commission Media Prize winners, here is an interview with Monica Quintero of KPEJ KMID TV in Odessa/Midlands, Texas and David Wagner of KLST/KSAN in San Angelo, Texas who worked on their story “Beyond Borders – A Trip Abroad” during their two-week RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship in September 2019. Their reporting aired on those stations in Texas in November 2019.
Question: Where did you get the idea to do your stories?
Monica Quintero: Before going to Europe, we read many of the books that RIAS
recommended and found out the countries there were dealing with many of the same heated issues that we deal with here in America. So, that’s where we got the idea from for the stories and along the way, they developed into much more than we even anticipated. We were given access to
some top leaders and that helped us give even better insight to many of the issues.
Question: When and exactly where did they air? Were they part of a nightly series at both of your stations? Or even more widely seen?
Question: How much time did you spend on your story? Talking with the protagonists and others?
Question: How did you manage to squeeze all the work into your RIAS fellowship? Did you sleep at all?
Question: Was it difficult to find the protagonists in your story? Or did they fall into your lap?
Question: Do you think things in Germany could serve as a prototype for the United States? Or are the two countries just too different in too many ways?
Monica Quintero: That question is one I wanted to leave up to the viewers.
Question: Do you think Americans are open to learning from the experiences of other countries?
Question: Your story on gun control is extraordinarily neutral – anyone watching that story would never know how you personally felt about gun control in Germany or Texas. How difficult was that and do you feel that is what journalism should be?
Question: Anything else you’d like to add?
March 20, 2020
RIAS Media Prize event cancelled due to coronavirus
The RIAS Berlin Commission regrets to announce that its Media Prize gala event will not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis. The annual event celebrating outstanding broadcast journalism covering transatlantic issues was scheduled for May 7 in Berlin, where the five winning entries of the Media Prize competition from the United States and Germany were to be honored. A grand RIAS alumni party scheduled for May 8 in Berlin has also been indefinitely postponed.
The RIAS Berlin Commission will pay tribute to the 2020 winners at the next Media Prize ceremony in 2021. The RIAS Berlin Commission annually presents awards for excellence in reporting on German-American issues. The awards are given for radio, TV and internet productions which made special contributions to the mutual understanding between the people of Germany and of the United States of America.
There will also be fuller reports on each of the winning stories on the www.riasberlin.org website in coming weeks. In the meantime, here are the findings from the independent panel of journalists from the United States and Germany who met at the historic RIAS building in Berlin-Schoeneberg on March 7 to pick the five winners from among nearly 100 submissions.
RIAS TV Award:
Bill Whitaker: “60 Minutes – The Rock”
“The Rock” opens with a reference to a previous 60 Minutes report — recognized by RIAS — comparing the German and American incarceration systems and raising the question: Could a German-style focus on rehabilitation work in a United States prison?
In the piece, Bill Whitaker introduces us to a prisoner-turned-college hoops star, wardens who dare to show weakness around inmates and prison lifers who find redemption in counseling young inmates to seize the opportunity of a second chance. Through their voices and experiences viewers are introduced to a program in one of the toughest U.S. prisons, inspired by what officials saw in Germany and challenged to reconsider the role of imprisonment in modern society.
While the jury deliberated long and hard over whether to award a prize to a journalist recognized in 2017, “The Rock”’ stood out, not only as an example of highest quality reporting, but as a testament to the RIAS mission: promoting mutual understanding between German and American society through a free exchange of information and ideas.
RIAS Radio Award:
Wiebke Keuneke: “Jenseits des American Dream – deutsche Sozialarbeiter unterwegs in den USA“ Listen here
In Wiebke Keuneke’s impressive radio report she accompanied twelve Berlin social workers on their journey to Chicago and Detroit. She recorded the critical, often skeptical and sometimes shocked impressions that the encounter with the reality of American social work led to.
The differences between Europe and the USA are clearly worked out and classified in the journalistic protocol of these encounters, yet it is always clear how universal the underlying questions are: It is about exclusion and lack of opportunities on the fringes of society, which can lead to violence and crime – and about fighting against them.
The report is brimming with a curiosity about another world. At the same time, it is about respect for the people who are trying to change something there. It is an outstanding example of how productive it can be in transatlantic relations to develop a mutual interest in the problems of everyday life, while remaining open and willing to learn instead of turning away from one another. Curiosity about one another helps everyone. Wiebke Keuneke has succeeded in curiously accompanying and exciting this learning process through journalism.
RIAS Digital Video Award:
David Diwiak, Han Park: “Veggie vs. Labor?”
From its very first moments, the video report Fleischersatz: Veggie vs. Labor? captivated the jury with its energy and attitude. David Diwiak and Han Park of youth-oriented NDR online-channel STRG_F explore the growing market for and appeal of meat replacements, both natural and man-made. Eating their way through many mouthfuls in the process, the team manages to shed light on the science, business, and ethics of cultured meat, as well as the differing views in Germany and the US when it comes to genetically modified foods. What starts as a humorous taste test quickly evolves into a well-thought out exploration of the current meat alternative offerings, and those soon to come via technological innovations. Interviews, animation, a deep dive into the California fake meat start-up scene, and other research are all used to excellent effect, leaving the jury hungry for more from this clever duo of young journalists.
RIAS Fellow Award TV:
Monica Quintero, David Wagner: “Beyond Borders – A Trip Abroad”
A thoughtful and intelligent TV documentary that successfully expands viewers’ knowledge of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. David Wagner and Monica Quintero bring the story into the present day by offering their West Texas audience a comparative look between the infamous symbol of the Cold War and today’s Mexico-United States barrier or Border Wall. The documentary deftly delves into the historical circumstances behind the two barriers while providing compelling snapshots of current day issues, including immigration and gun control in each country. Viewers are enticed to decide for themselves whether or not history is repeating itself. Wagner and Quintero utilize a powerful mix of interview subjects and eyewitness testimony. The audience is given further pause at the description of the mixed emotions with which the then West- and East Germans greeted the fall of the Wall: from unbridled joy to confusion to sadness. “Beyond Borders: A Trip Abroad” surpasses the expectations of its title by bringing home to West Texas a pivotal epoch in German history within the context of today’s headlines.
RIAS Fellow Award Radio:
Christopher Conover: “The Buzz: German Perspectives on Immigration” Listen here
At a time of growing anxiety on both sides of the Atlantic over the short- and long-term implications of mass migration, RIAS fellow Christopher Conover of Southern Arizona public radio explored Germany’s recent experience with the refugee influx of 2015 and what lessons America can take from it. In a series of in-depth interviews with people on the front lines – the architect of Europe’s “refugee deal” with Turkey, a Syrian who nearly died trying to cross the Mediterranean on his way to Germany, and a German journalist who covered the crisis – Conover’s dispatch offers a window into the complexities, challenges and contradictions of Europe’s approach to migration. By letting those closest to the German crisis offer a nuanced picture of their views and experiences, the work exemplifies the RIAS Commission’s founding principle to promote German-American understanding.
March 11, 2020
RIAS Berlin Commission Media Prize Award Winners Chosen
The RIAS Berlin Commission’s 2020 Media Prize award winners were selected by an eight-member panel of international journalists for radio and television stories that recognize the best contributions of transatlantic broadcast journalism. The winners and their stories that touch on transatlantic issues will be honored at a gala ceremony in Berlin on May 7. Three of the winning entries were from the United States and two from Germany.
The independent jury reviewed the scores of entries at the RIAS building in Berlin and spent hours discussing and debating the submissions.
The jury members included: Helge Fuhst (ARD Tagesschau Deputy Editor-in-Chief), Matthew Karnitschnig (POLITICO Chief Europe Correspondent), Christian Wilp (N-TV Chief Correspondent), Dr. Richard Meng (Former Correspondent Frankfurter Rundschau), Susan Woosley (KCRW Berlin), Melissa Eddy (New York Times Correspondent), Susan Stone (freelance journalist, podcast producer/formerly NPR), Michael Gargiulo (WNBC News Anchor).
There will also be a RIAS alumni celebration in Berlin on May 8.
Here is a list of the winners selected by the jury:
RIAS TV Award:
Bill Whitaker: “60 Minutes – The Rock”
RIAS Radio Award:
Wiebke Keuneke “Jenseits des American Dream – deutsche Sozialarbeiter unterwegs in den USA“
RIAS Bewegtbild Digital Award:
David Diwiak, Han Park: “Veggie vs. Labor?”
RIAS Fellow Award (Radio):
Christopher Conover: “The Buzz: German Perspectives on Immigration”
RIAS Fellow Award (TV):
Monica Quintero, David Wagner: “Beyond Borders – A Trip Abroad”
March 10, 2020
March RIAS Berlin Commission programs to the USA postponed
RIAS Berlin Commission deeply regrets to announce that its programs scheduled for March (standard journalist program and ERP student program) will be postponed until either the fall of 2020 or later due to the current disruptions associated with the corona virus pandemic.
All participants of the standard journalist program will be offered a spot in subsequent programs, which will hopefully be rescheduled as soon there is more clarity regarding the situation. An important consideration behind the decision was the concern that transport disruptions caused by the pandemic could lead to substantial problems for participants to return to Germany in late March and mid-April, respectively. The possibility that some participants could be stranded for prolonged periods due to transportation shutdowns could not be ruled out. In addition to the above-mentioned issues, many US newsrooms and universities that RIAS participants had been scheduled to visit have been cancelling appointments and restricting visitor regulations as part of their precautionary measures.
February 12, 2020
Peter Beyer, German government’s transatlantic coordinator, talks to RIAS alumni group
RIAS Berlin Commission board member Peter Beyer gave a riveting two-hour talk to a group of 28 RIAS Berlin alumni members. Beyer, a member of parliament for the conservative Christian Democrats, is also the German government’s transatlantic coordinator. He talked candidly about many of the challenges facing German-American relations at the moment. He stressed nevertheless that “there is more that unites us than divides us.”
Beyer said he travels to the United States about once each month and made no secret of his positive view of the country and its people. He said he sometimes wished that German journalists would report more of other parts of the country away from Washington D.C. After giving his talk, Beyer took time to do several interviews with some of the RIAS alumni who brought their microphones to the event.
It was one of the biggest alumni chapter meetings ever in Berlin and kicks off a big year of alumni events. Another big alumni event will take place in Washington DC on March 13 and another one on March 20 in New York City when a group of 12 journalists from Germany on a RIAS program to the United States meets with the local chapters.
There will also be a large RIAS alumni event on May 7 in Berlin at the annual RIAS media prize awards ceremony and a special alumni gathering the following evening in Berlin on May 8.
January 14, 2020
RIAS picks 12 journalists, 15 students for March-April exchange programs in USA
The RIAS Berlin Commission has selected 12 journalists from Germany to take part in its three-week March program to the United States. Funding for two of the 12 journalists came from RIAS alumni in Germany, who donated a total of 11,000 euros in 2019. The journalists will together spend four days in Washington DC, six days in New York and six days on their at a “station week” visits with RIAS alumni from the United States across the country — from San Angelo, Texas to Chicago, Illinois and from Seattle, Washington to Bloomington, Indiana. The station weeks are concentrated in heartland states (4 in Texas, 1 in Arizona, 1 in Indiana, 1 in Nevada, 1 in Illinois) and three on the coasts in Seattle, Oregon, and New York City.
Five of the journalists on the March 10-27 program are from commercial networks or companies while seven come from public broadcasting stations. Three of the journalists come from formerly communist eastern Germany, where the legendary RIAS radio station was a popular source of news, information and rock music for millions of East Germans as the “voice of the free world” during the Cold War.
- Lena Mosel, WeltTV –
- Peter Neuhaus, WDR/DLF
- Katharina Hambacher, DLF
- Jan Fritsche, ZDF –
- Najima El Moussaoui – WDR, NTV
- Julia Gruenwald – MDR
- Martje Freese – NDR Tageschau/Phoenix
- Etienne Bell – NTV
- Michelle Martin, Reuters TV
- Romy Hiller, NDR
- Manuela Kasper-Claridge, Deutsche Welle
- Sven Christian – Spiegel TV
The RIAS Berlin Commission has also selected 15 students of journalism and related fields for the first-ever student program in the United States — thanks in large part to an ERP grant. The 15 students will spend three days in Washington DC, three in New York City and then two weeks at universities across the country — from Montana to Texas A&M, from Hawaii to Wisconsin and from Minnesota to Oklahoma.
It is the reciprocal program to the summer exchange program for US students in Germany that was launched in 2018. The university hosts are for the most part RIAS alumni who will be showing the Germans how campus radio and TV stations work as well as campus newspapers and journalism classes.
Five of the 15 students come from formerly communist eastern Germany and 12 of the 15 are from universities in eastern Germany. The German students, many of whom have never been to the United States before, will be mostly spending their two-week campus visit at universities in heartland states. The 15 students come from 11 different universities or journalism schools: University of Leipzig (3), University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal (2), Springer Akadamie (2), Halle-Wittenberg (1), University of Applied Sciences Mittweida (1), Cologne (1), Wilhelmshaven (1), Free University (1), Humboldt University (1), RTL Journalism School (1) and Deutsche Journalism School (1).
home university/j-school University to visit in USA
- Jana Glose – University Wilhelmshaven – University of Oklahoma, Norman
- Daniel Heyd – RTL Journalistenschule – University of Oklahoma, Norman
- Florian Sädler – Springer Akadamie – University of Oklahoma, Norman
- Lara Jäkel – Free University Berlin – Texas A&M, College Station, Texas
- Sarah-Maria Köpf – Halle-Wittenberg – Texas A&M, College Station, Texas
- Simon Lanzerath – University Cologne – University of Montana, Missoula, Montana
- Adrian Liehr, University Leipzig – Humboldt State University, Arcata, California
- Jessica Schäfer, Magdeburg-Stendal – University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Anna Seikel, University Leipzig – Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington
- Rieke Smit, Magdeburg-Stendal – New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Friedrich Steffes-Iay, Springer Akadamie – Arizona State, Phoenix, Arizona
- Tom Wagner, Humboldt University – University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Marita Wehlus, Deutsche Journalistenschule – University of Indiana, Bloomington
- Amy Woyth, Mittweida – University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
- Emma-Matthea Lübbert, University Leipzig – University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
January 6, 2020
Win a trip to Berlin for the May 7, 2020 RIAS Media Prize Awards!
U.S. and Germany-based journalists are invited to enter their best stories that touch on transatlantic or global themes for the annual RIAS Media Prize Awards. The best TV, radio and digital stories aired or published in the year 2019 are eligible for the prestigious competition and winners in each category will be invited to attend the gala prize ceremonies on May 7 in Berlin at the headquarters building of the legendary Cold War-era radio station known as the free voice of the free world.
The deadline for submitting entries on January 15, 2020.
December 24, 2019
RIAS concludes successful 2019 with 6 programs, 92 participants, & rising donations
It was a successful year in 2019 for the RIAS Berlin Commission with 92 participants taking part in six transatlantic exchange programs and more than a dozen alumni events with hundreds of participants taking place in the United States and Germany. That was up from 78 participants on six programs in 2018. The largest RIAS program ever took place in November with 30 U.S. alumni on a week-long program in Berlin and to report on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There will be a similarly large RIAS alumni program in Washington in late October 2020 just before the U.S. elections.
More than 60 RIAS Berlin Commission alumni answered the call to help support our exchange programs through this prolonged low-interest phase that has made it challenging for the RIAS Berlin Commission. Donations from alumni and friends of RIAS in Germany and the United States in 2019 exceeded $13,000, which represents about a 50-percent increase from 2018. Those donations will make it possible to take three more journalists than planned on the RIAS standard exchange programs to the United States and Germany in 2020 so thanks for your support!
Thanks to an ERP grant from the German government, RIAS Berlin Commission has created a new program in 2020 for 15 German journalism students to spend three weeks in the United States in late March and early April to learn more about journalism education and college life in the United States. They will spend a total of one week in Washington DC and New York together before flying to 12 different U.S. universities across the country where they will spend two weeks.
RIAS Berlin Commission’s goals for 2020 are to try to find new and creative ways to counter the impact of the prolonged low-interest rate phase, create high-caliber programs for high-caliber participating journalists, ensure geographic diversity from across the United States and Germany, ensure diversity in all our groups, and encourage the growth of autonomous alumni chapters. Thanks for all your support!
December 13, 2019
RIAS fellows air series of stories from their fellowship in Brussels, Cologne, Erfurt and Berlin
Monica Quintero from Fox KPEJ in Odessa, Texas and David Wagner from KLSTV TV in San Angelo, Texas worked together on their RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship in September for a 30-minute documentary on their experience and findings during their two-week tour of Brussels, Cologne, Erfurt and Berlin.
They grabbed many of the guest speakers for interviews in between appointments and dragged German alumni members out of German-American get-togethers to get their views on a variety of issues that touch both Germany and the United States — the Berlin Wall and the wall between the United States and Mexico, gun control, anti-Semitism, the East Side Gallery open air museum, the Cologne cathedral and other issues.
There were several other reports done by fellows on the September program. Erik Runge from WGN in Chicago did a two-part series on the Berlin Wall that was aired in Chicago in November to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. here is Erik Runge’s first part of his Berlin Wall series and here is the second part of his Berlin Wall series.
And Alex Presha of NBC 7 in San Diego did this interesting “Food for Thought” Commentary and the end of his weekly Politically Speaking show. He explained why he had missed the show the last two weeks and observed the similarities in issues in Germany and the United States — how both countries are struggling with their own asylum debates and how Berlin infamously once had a Wall while the United States was building one. “Over my time there, one German journalist pointed out the difference between us and them. He mentioned that Germans were deeply reflective of the past. they have to be because of their nation’s history. Americans are always forward-thinking, a short memory and always what’s next. It’s not a bad thing. but it explains our differences. It’s just some food for thought.”
December 11, 2019
RIAS alumni chapters gather in New York City, Cologne and Berlin
Scores of RIAS Berlin alumni took party in good-spirited parties and get-togethers in New York City, Cologne and Berlin in recent weeks. The momentum for alumni activities has really picked up in 2019 with more and more participants attending more and more events in the USA and Germany — highlighted by the week-long alumni program for 30 Americans in Berlin in November to report on and recall the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In New York, the local NYC alumni chapter got together at their unofficial clubhouse – the Long Island Acre Tavern at Times Square on Friday, December 6 for their holiday party. Michael Garguilo of WNBC in New York helped organize the well-attended event and said “we had a super turnout blast night”. Among those attending were Hannah Klouth of RTL TV, Jessica Prater of CNN, Adam Reiss of NBC, Bryan Weakland of MSNBC, Edgar Zuniga of Telemundo, filmmaker Jordan Vesey, Viviana Hurtado of Bloomberg TV, Mary Goodie of WNBC, Iris Carreras of CBS and Jessica Moskowitz of CNN.
In Cologne, a group of about a dozen alumni got together at the Deutzer Brauhaus on Thursday, December 5 to talk more about the October 2020 alumni program for 30 Germans in Washington DC about two weeks before the U.S. elections. The chapter leaders in Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg and Rhine-Main will be nominating enthusiastic and active alumni from those chapters who will possibly be working on stories in the USA or eager to help support future programs with donations.
Cologne co-leaders Bartosz Dudek of Deutsche Welle and Marcel Grzyb of NTV organised the meeting and will be passing along nominations from the Cologne chapter for the 2020 USA alumni program.
In Berlin, about 20 German and American alumni from Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne celebrated Thanksgiving at the home of RIAS chairperson Christina Higgins on Saturday November 23. It was a delightful event with authentic turkey and stuffing that many of the American expatriates attending had not had the pleasure of tasting in many years.
December 10, 2019
RIAS Berlin says farewell to outgoing board members, welcomes new Commissioners
The RIAS Berlin Commission bid farewell to three distinguished members of its 10-person board at its 37th Commission meeting in Berlin on December 9. Chairperson Christina M. Higgins (pictured on the right) and co-chair Peter Limbourg (third from left) thanked Melissa Eddy (fourth from left) and Dr. Melinda Crane (third from right) for their long service and dedication to the RIAS Berlin Commission, a bi-national organization to promote broadcast journalism, and its exchange programs.
Crane, a reporter and anchor at Deutsche Welle, has been on the supervisory board of the RIAS Berlin Commission since 2005 while Eddy, a Berlin-based reporter for The New York Times, has served since 2016. Both have also been long-serving members of the RIAS Berlin Commission Media Prize jury. Also leaving the board is Dr. Helena Kane Finn, a former Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, who has served on the RIAS Berlin Commission since 2007.
Joining the 10-member board — which is made up of five Americans and five Germans — were Jamie Kirchick (fifth from left), a visiting fellow the Brookings Institution, and Matt Karnitschnig, Politico’s chief Europe Correspondent, based in Berlin (fourth from right). Also joining the board was Peter Rough from the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, who took part in the meeting via teleconference.
The new board pictured below got right down to business at their meeting at Deutsche Welle’s headquarters in Berlin. The members of the new board are, from left: Matt Karnitschnig, Dr. Richard Meng, Jamie Kirchick, Dr. Hildegard Boucsein, Peter Limbourg and Christina M. Higgins. Also pictured is RIAS Berlin Commission Executive Director Erik Kirschbaum
December 4, 2019
Dear RIAS Berlin Commission alumni and friends of RIAS,
We’ve a really busy year with 92 participants on six transatlantic exchange programs — including 30 Americans on our first big group alumni program in Berlin in November as well as four standard two- to three-week programs, and a three-week student program in Germany. We hope to have another busy and successful year in 2020 with seven programs on the schedule: the four standard programs plus the US student program in Germany and a new three-week program for German students in the USA (financed thanks largely to an ERP grant from the German government and the students’ own 500-euro contributions) as well as a one-week alumni program in October in Washington DC – which is also possible thanks to cost sharing from alumni.
To make all these programs a success, we could really use your help with donations. We can promise you that every euro or dollar you donate to RIAS will go directly and entirely to adding more participants to the 2020 programs. Right now we only have enough funding for about 40 journalists on the four standard programs but would like to take 50 to 56 – and that will only be possible with your help. Unfortunately, the decline in investment income has forced us to trim the length of the programs but we have tried to make up for that with intensity and enthusiastic guest speakers everywhere we go. If you had a good experience with RIAS and remember how much the program may have changed your outlook or even your life, please keep that in mind and your tax-deductible donations will help make the program possible in 2020 for at least one more journalist. You really can make a difference. Thanks for thinking of RIAS! And please do call or write with any ideas on suggestions on how we can make RIAS better.
Here is the link for tax-deductible donations in the USA:
(Please scroll down to “The RIAS program” )
Here is the RIAS Berlin Commission account for tax-deductible donations in Germany:
RIAS Berlin Commission, IBAN: DE72 1005 0000 1160 0155 50, Kennwort: “Spende”
November 18, 2019
Brief comments from US journalists after November alumni program in Germany
The RIAS Berlin Commission recently completed its one-week November exchange program with 30 U.S. journalists in Berlin to report on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There were talks with former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, former U.S. diplomat Robert Zoellick, German TV journalists from eastern Germany Anja Heyde (ZDF), Andreas Weise (ZDF) and Dirk Emmerich as well visits to the Berlin Wall on Bernauer Strasse, where many escape tunnels were, and to the East Side Gallery, where artists from around the world painted artworks on a 1.3-kilometer section of the wall that still stand 30 years later. There were also lively alumni reunions with German alumni in Berlin. Here are some of the impressions from the 30 Americans who took part in the program.
Adam Reiss, NBC News, New York Our trip to Berlin to witness the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of The Wall was eye opening, educational, and truly inspiring. Everyone we met along the way was passionate about their story and what it meant to them. Their passion was infectious. From Zoellick to Brokaw and all the German journalists in between, we went behind the scenes and got the real story. In the process, I made many friends that will last a lifetime. We were able to dig deep and understand the history of the wall, how it affected and continues to touch people from both sides is something I will never forget. The significance of the wall to world events, then and now, cannot be overstated. The knowledge and wonderful experiences I bring home with me enrich my life in so many ways. As always with RIAS, we were given a front row seat to the people and events of this historic week. Erik and Isabell, thanks again for an amazing trip.
Melissa Steinhofer, CNN Newsource You really remember the moments in your life when you stop, acknowledge and think “I can’t believe I’m here.” I said that to myself several times on the RIAS alumni program. We walked where tunnels once were dug with the intention of being a crude lifeline to freedom. We listened to German journalists as they opened up about themselves and revealed their personal journeys from a divided Germany to almost 30 years of a united country. We stood in the Palace of Tears and learned how the Berlin Wall impacted millions of lives for decades. And, we celebrated with 100,000 others at Brandenburg Gate on the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, all sharing the same thought: walls don’t work. If that wasn’t a rich enough experience, I was able to share it with 29 highly accomplished journalists from all over the U.S., many of whom I now consider friends. For all of these reasons, it is a trip I will never forget.
Yami Virgin, KABB TV, San Antonio, Texas“The pond never seemed smaller thanks to the wonderful opportunities offered by RIAS to American and German journalist. The opportunities we had this trip and the Senior Editors trip makes this a worthwhile experience for anyone who is involved. We come back to the states with stories, a new appreciation for the way things are done around the world and with new contacts within our industry. More TV companies should allow their employees to take part of this program as part of their recruitment efforts. Thank you to Erik and Rainer before him for allowing me to bring back amazing stories not only for San Antonio but also for all of the 100 plus stations that are a part of my company.”
Terry Anzur, International Media Trainer, West Covina, CA“In today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking world, RIAS offers journalists a priceless opportunity to reflect on the past and discuss the future. Relationships I formed while visiting Germany and hosting Germans in the USA were transformative for my career and my entire family. Thank you, RIAS!”
Lane Luckie, KLTV, Tyler, Texas I couldn’t have imagined a more eye-opening week than covering the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by sharing the stories of people who lived history. Any opportunity with the RIAS Berlin Commission is one of discovery and connections. I soaked up so much feedback, ideas, and knowledge from this world-class group of brodcasters from around the U.S. and developed new friendships along the way. Thanks to this reporting tour, I was able to gain a new appreciation of this watershed moment in modern history and the key players involved in the fall of the wall. Reading about East and West Germany or watching videos online places limits on your understanding of any topic. Adding the human element is essential to telling the powerful story of the Peaceful Revolution. Most importantly, this reporting opportunity gave our audiences in East Texas the opportunity to see historic places and meet people they otherwise may not. Since my first fellowship in 2017, Germany has called my name. There’s so much more to learn about one of America’s closest allies and the people who call it home. I’m so lucky RIAS continues to opens doors for personal and professional growth. Programs like these give me hope for the future of broadcasting and journalism, as so many people return home with a transformational experience just like mine.
Andrew Schneider, Houston Public Media, Houston, Texas The high point of the trip for me was the Saturday night festivities at Brandenburg Gate, when we had the opportunity to hear the incomparable Daniel Barenboim conduct the Staatskapelle Berlin in the performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. I also particularly enjoyed the briefing at Deutsche Welle and the tour of the Palace of Tears. More than any individual site or experience, though, I value the new friends I made. Many thanks, RIAS, for making this all possible!
Chas Henry, National Radio Network, Washington DC Before learning of the 2019 RIAS Foundation alumni program in Berlin, I had already planned a series of #MauerFall30 reports for the 900 affiliates of the Westwood One radio network. The opportunity to join in such RIAS-arranged events as the tunnel tour — and particularly the federal government-sponsored remembrance at the Tränenpalast — allowed me to expand the project into a half-hour audio documentary set for WWO-affiliate broadcast over the coming Thanksgiving week. Foundation staff were unfailingly helpful in arranging contacts I would not have been able to make on my own — and to point me toward archival media that will help me better tell the story of the wall, and Germany and Europe post-1989. I am exceptionally grateful.
Christine Dobbyn, KTRK-TV ABC Houston, Texas It was great to be back in Berlin for a special program during the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. The speakers and program provided fantastic context on the anniversary along with the current situation in Germany politically, socially and economically. Coming back again was a unique opportunity to gain additional perspective, renew old journalism friendships and gain some new ones!
Scott Saloway, Yahoo Finance, New York My time on RIAS in 2017 was life changing, and being able to return in 2019 to witness the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall was also profound. I learned much more about the history of that remarkable event, plus the attitudes that still exist today between East and West. I am grateful to have had the opportunity!
Stephanie Wolf, Colorado Public Radio, Denver, Colorado It’s an incredible gift to get to take time off from the daily news to be a student of history and geopolitics. I’m so grateful RIAS has provided that opportunity for me twice. The alumni program was particularly special as 30 of us U.S. journalists got to witness an important moment for Germany and Eastern Europe, the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. From conversations with journalists to hearing the mayor’s address to partaking in the weekend’s festivities, RIAS assembled an informative and engaging program. Most of all, I come away from the program with new friends and connections.
Henry Mulak, KNTV, San Jose, California The RIAS Kommission provided me with an unbelievable number of contacts by which I could do my work in Berlin, Brussels, and Cologne. The breath and depth of knowledge and understanding offered to journalists like me allowed me a greater understanding of the issues I report on and a solid foundation from which to proceed. I would go on to become a freelance foreign correspondent, reporting from Berlin, thanks in large part to the help RIAS provided. What a joy to be back for a reunion tour during the 30th anniversary observation of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
Bryan Weakland, MSNBC, New York The RIAS alumni program has been an extraordinary experience. Not only was I able to forge new connections with German journalists, I was able to reinforce relationships with German journalists I met during my RIAS fellowship in 2018. It was absolutely incredible to be in Berlin for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and to hear from journalists who were there in 1989 and covered the event as it happened. It was captivating to hear from residents of East Berlin who shared their emotional accounts of what life was like before and after that momentous day. I’m so grateful for this life-changing opportunity RIAS has provided. I will now have a more informed perspective about Germany and its history that will help me as an American journalist when covering European issues, specifically ones that involve Germany. I also now have several connections with German journalists that will last a lifetime. Thank you for this wonderful alumni program. I will be forever grateful and look forward to helping promote and contribute to RIAS for years to come.
Meg Moritz, University of Colorado, Boulder As a journalist and a teacher I have come to appreciate the unique educational value of travel. This trip once again demonstrated that there is no substitute for being on site during a major news event. It was also great to re-connect with RIAS as a new student-centered initiative in being launched…always happy to host Germans in Boulder, CO…and to promote RIAS to CU students interested in expanding their horizons.
Tom Brislin, University of Hawaii Twenty years ago RIAS American journalists were criticized for being Wall-obsessed and backward-focused. We were told we were trying to trap Berlin & Germany in an historic amber of East-West (and National Socialism of course). We were ignoring the progress, growth, and power of a new reunified German character. Now thirty years after the Wall’s fall, we hear from all quarters a continual conversation and consternation over how many generations it might take until those ramifications of reunification are actually set in a new national narrative. In the meantime the November 9 anniversaries are like a metronome measuring the historic beats. Many thanks to RIAS for providing a lens through which we can continue to observe, learn, and share.
Larry Levin, Irish Echo, Dublin “The RIAS Alumni program around the 30th Anniversary of the fall of the Wall was an interesting and evocative experience for all of the journalists and educators who participated. It stimulated many good discussions among the group members themselves, as well as with the speakers, about the U.S. relationship with Germany and how that might evolve into the future. The RIAS program fills a major void in American journalism and journalism education by exposing us to issues that we would not normally have the time or experience to pursue ourselves.”
Debby Block, Voice of America, Washington Another fantastic opportunity to learn about Germany through the RIAS journalists program. It was very exciting to be in Berlin during the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall. The Saturday night celebrations with art installations, speeches, and entertainment attended by thousands of people, a number of whom had once lived on either side of the wall, was inspiring. Our speakers, and tours like the Berlin tunnels, gave me much more of an understanding of those terrible years than I ever could have imagined. Just standing in front of pieces of the wall gave me a feeling I will never forget. Thank you for this once in a lifetime opportunity, which also included getting to know some of the participants as wonderful new friends. It was also great to reconnect with some of the German journalists I had met previously through RIAS. I am grateful I was part of this valuable alumni program.
Lee Anderson, KTVZ Bend, Oregon: Man, I LOVE Berlin! What a vibrant, historic city. It’s a city with many stories, some not so good, but it’s as important a city as any on Earth, so It must be studied and discussed. Our recent studies and discussions of the city further help the world to know about events which have shaped our lives. Hearing from the news makers, as well as the news reporters, was a once in a lifetime experience. Being with a group of outstanding journalists throughout the trip heightened the experience. Many thanks to Isabell, Lisa and Erik for a great program.
November 14, 2019
Record-breaking RIAS Alumni program in Berlin 2019
The RIAS Berlin Commission completed its week-long senior editor and alumni program onNovember 11 for 30 US alumni — setting a record for the largest group.
Many of the journalists used the fellowship to work on stories for their networks back in the United States, taking advantage of the talks with journalists such as Tom Brokaw (NBC), Dirk Emmerich (NTV), Anja Heyde (ZDF) and Andreas Weise (ZDF) as well as visits to the Berlin Wall memorial on Bernauer Strasse and a look at where some of the tunnels dug beneath the Wall were for their stories.
Some of the other highlights included a talk with Monika Grütters, Germany’s minster for culture, about the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall after a ceremony at the Tränenpalast, and a talk with Robert Zoellick who helped negotiate the “2+4” talks with the two Germanys and the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and France that paved the way for German unification a year later.
The American journalists also attended a festive ceremony by the local Berlin city government commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall and a speech by Mayor Michael Müller and got a tour of the famous East Side Gallery by artist Kani Alavi, who painted one of the Berlin Wall slabs in 1990 and has since then fought to preserve the 1.3-kilometer long open air art gallery that attracts millions of tourists to Berlin each year. The week in Berlin was capped with front row access to a massive open-air celebration at the Brandenburg Gate watched by 500,000 spectators and millions of people on television. Here are some of their stories and reports for their networks back home.
The Americans also had numerous chances to meet German alumni from RIAS and renew friendships with German journalists that they have hosted in the United States over the past decades.
The next major alumni program will take place in Washington DC from October 18 to October 24, 2020. Up to 30 German alumni will be invited to take part on a cost-sharing basis.
There will be several get-togethers with the Washington DC
alumni chapter and with U.S. alumni based in the United States. Anyone interested in applying for that should contact their local alumni chapter and priority will be given to alumni who have been active alumni members, donate to RIAS and/or will be working on stories for their networks back home in Germany.
November 12, 2019
Call for Entries 2020!
To view our call for entries flyer please click here.
RADIO, TV AND DIGITAL MEDIA AWARDS
The RIAS Berlin Commission annually presents awards for excellence in reporting on German-American issues. The awards are given for radio, TV and internet productions which made special contributions to the mutual understanding between the people of Germany and of the United States of America. Eligible are all kinds of reports on German topics aired in the US or on US topics aired in Germany or other programs with German-American aspects in the fields of international politics, economics, social issues, cultural developments or current events.
The 2020 RIAS Berlin Commission Radio, TV, and Digital Media Awards – Call for Entries
The RIAS Berlin Commission presents annual awards for excellence in reporting on transatlantic issues. Awards are presented in three categories: Radio, TV, and Digital Media. In order to qualify a report must have been on a German topic aired domestically in the U.S. or on a U.S. topic aired in Germany, or be another local, national or international story of mutual interest, be it on politics, economics, security, social issues, culture or current events and developments.
Entries from recent and former RIAS Fellows are welcomed, and encouraged.
RADIO AND TV AWARDS
Entries must be radio or television stories aired in 2019 and may be single stories or multi-part series. There is no length requirement. All entries must be submitted electronically, with a URL for the story, and an attached script.
Entries must include:
– your name, title, business address, phone, and e-mail
– air date(s) of your story and its running length
– title and a brief description of your story
– a brief description of your role in the production of the story
DIGITAL MEDIA AWARDS
This award will honor all kinds of German or American stories posted on the internet in 2019. All entries must be submitted electronically, with a URL for the story, and any additional materials should be submitted as an attachment. Accurate web addresses leading to the website(s) must be transmitted by email to the RIAS Berlin Commission. Sites must be active and accessible by the RIAS jury at the time of judging, and not require any proprietary information for access.
Entries must include:
– your name, title, business address, phone, e-mail,
– posting date(s) of the story, its running length, word count,
– title and a brief description of your story,
– a brief description of your role in the production of the story.
Entries must include your name, title, business address, phone, and e-mail and a brief description of your entry and your role in it.
DEADLINE: JANUARY 15, 2020
Entries must be received no later than January 15, 2020. Entry material cannot be returned. All work submitted must be the primary effort of the person or persons making the entry.
The awards ceremony will be held in Berlin on May 7, 2020. Qualified expenses (travel and hotel) will be paid for each award winner attending the ceremony in Berlin.
All entries should be send to:
RIAS Berlin Commission
Funkhaus am Hans-Rosenthal-Platz
November 7, 2019
Here is a list of the participants: Lee Anderson, Terry Anzur, Pam Benson, Deborah Block, Tom Brislin, Buzz Conovon, Christine Dobbyn, Scott Fralick, Marilyn Geewax, Chas Henry, Bob Jamieson, Larry Levin, Lane Luckie, Marguerite Moritz, Henry Mulak, Hillary Powell, Adam Reiss, Ross Reynolds, Scott Saloway, Joe Sampson, Stacey Samuel, Andrew Schneider, Bill Skane, Melissa Steinhofer, Yami Virgin, Joel Waldinger, Bryan Weakland, Stephanie Wolf, Tiffany Zeno
The RIAS Berlin Commission is proud to announce the start of a new fellowship program in the United States for Germans who are studying journalism, attending journalism schools or have been working for media outlets in Germany while attending university. The inaugural three-week program will take place from March 22, 2020 to April 10, 2020.
The project for German students in the United States follows the successful run of a reciprocal program for U.S. students in Germany in 2018 and 2019.
The new RIAS program for German students includes a four-day introduction with the entire group of up to 12 German students to the United States in New York, a four-day visit to Washington DC and then two weeks on an individual basis at U.S. colleges and universities across the country, where the fellows will work together and watch American university students put together campus radio and TV news shows. In New York and Washington the group will meet American journalists at their TV and radio stations as well as take part in meetings at leading think tanks such as Brookings and the Pew Institute. They will also meet some political leaders.
The two weeks at U.S. colleges and universities from about March 29 to April 10 will be spent paired with American college students, some of whom have taken part in a RIAS summer exchange program for students to Germany. They will attend some journalism and college classes in the United States with their American host student and will be involved with the production of daily radio or TV news shows that are put together by the college stations — often part of the NPR or PBS public broadcasting network.
Participants receive round trip air travel from their home city to the United States, ground and air travel in and across the United States, and hotel accommodations during the program. Some meals are also provided during the program. Participants will leave Germany no later than March 22, 2020 and return no sooner than on April 11, 2020.
As this is a partially funded program supported bei ERP funds, each participant will be required to contribute €500 to help cover the cost of the program.
The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).
For more information, please write or call the RIAS Berlin Commission office in Berlin: email@example.com. Telephone: 030 8503 6971.
German journalists spend 3 weeks on RIAS fellowship in USA
Eleven journalists and one artist from Germany just finished a busy three-week RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship in the United States. The journalists from commercial broadcasting companies as well as commercial broadcasters from across Germany were together in Washington DC for one week, then New York City for one week and then spent the final week of their fellowships on their own at small station networks across the United States.
Those “stations week” internships were at stations from Seattle to South Carolina, from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Cincinnati to Denver, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Bloomington, Indiana, and from Tyler, Texas to San Antonio, Texas,
It was one of the busiest programs ever with some of the highlights in Washington DC including a visit to Jeff Mason of Reuters at the White House press center, a talk with Fox News Managing Editor Bill Sammon, a meeting with German Ambassador Emily Haber, talks with former Congressmen Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D) and Charlie Dent (R-Penn), a talk with Peter Rough of the Hudson Institute, visits to WUSA9 anchor and RIAS alumni Larry Miller, and a visit to the ZDF office with Britta Jäger.
The highlights during the New York week included a briefing in Trenton with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a meeting with CBS news president Susan Zirinsky, a talk with CNN’s long-time U.N. correspondent Richard Roth, a visit to Bloomberg for talks with Michael Lysak and RIAS alumni Viviana Hurtado, a visit to the New York Times with The Daily’s Clare Toeniskoetter (also a RIAS alumni), a visit to WNBC-TV, NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo with Michael Gargulio, Adam Reiss, Tiffany Zeno, Bryan Weakland and Edgar Zunigo, a visit to Vice and a talk with Hendrik Hitzel, Yahoo Finance and a talk with Scott Saloway (RIAS alumni) and a talk with Germany’s U.N. ambassador Christoph Heusgen.
Included in the group was Berlin artist Kani Alavi. The German-Iranian artist painted one of the iconic murals on the Berlin Wall and is one of the driving forces behind the East Side Gallery who has often given U.S. groups a tour of the East Side Gallery and his studio. The 1992 RIAS treaty included a provision inviting journalists, academics and artists to take part in RIAS exchange programs. Alavi also painted a segment of the Berlin Wall that now stands outside the U.N. building in New York and Alavi saw his artwork in New York for the first time during the RIAS exchange program.
The group was also accompanied at times by RIAS board members Richard Meng and Helena Kane Finn. There were also spirited alumni get-togethers in Washington DC with 35 participants and in New York with 35 participants as well.
Here is a list of the October 2019 participants:
- Gesine Dornblueth, Deutschlandradio, Berlin
- Leon Ginzel, Radio MDR Thueringen, DPA Audio Berlin
- Laura Goudkamp, BR radio and TV, Munich
- Isabelle Körner, RTL and n-tv, Cologne
- Heike Mohr, radioeins and RBB Fritz, Potsdam
- Volker Petersen, n-tv online, Berlin
- Viktoria Reith, Deutschlandfunk, Cologne
- Simon Schuetz, Bild.de, Berlin
- Andreas Mitzkus, RTL TV, Cologne
- Felix Wessel, WDR Radio and Deutschlandfunk, Cologne
- Bastian Harting, Deutsche Welle
- Kani Alavi, artist, founder of the East Side Gallery
September 27, 2019
Brief comments from US journalists after September exchange program in Germany
The RIAS Berlin Commission recently completed its two-week September exchange program with 10 U.S. journalists. They visited Brussels, Cologne, Erfurt and Berlin. There were about 30 appointments with German journalists, politicians, think tanks, artists and media experts. They also saw a Hertha Berlin soccer game at Olympia stadium. There were also three lively alumni reunions with German alumni from RIAS in Berlin, Cologne, Brussels. Here are some of the impressions from the 10 Americans who took part in the program.
Jordyn Siemens, KTVZ-TV in Bend, Oregon
The RIAS Berlin Kommission Program opened my eyes to just how interconnected our worlds can be. As someone who covers hyper-local issues for a small market in the U.S., I was impressed and surprised at how global issues and the lives of those abroad could be compared and applied to those my community faces. I’m looking forward to bringing this new perspective back with me; it’s sure to change the way I do my job, and hopefully open the eyes of others as well.
Jessica Moskowitz, CNN, New York
My RIAS Fall 2019 trip has been all about giving up assumptions about European politics and German society and being open minded to experience all that may be possible. I read ten books to prepare for this amazing opportunity but once I landed in Brussels I thought: time to dive in. And that I did, quite literally. I cold plunged into the freezing pool at the Stadtbad
Neukölln after participating in a nude sauna ceremony. Ditto (but with a bathing suit) on the last day of the season at the Badeschiff on the Spree. I ended up front and center singing Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” at Bear Pit Karaoke on a Sunday at Mauer Park. It was a joy to share delicious alkoholfrei beer with my blind date Dirk Steinmetz in his home. His wife and adorable children showed me their plum and apple trees as he prepared an appetizer spread of Oktoberfest treats. I devoured a Mustafa Gemüse Kebap in the studio of Kani Alavi – and went back again a few days later for more of that amazing food. Of course there were many spirited intellectual conversations and lots of introspection as well. So thank you, thank you, thank you: over the past two weeks I leaned into this opportunity and I leave drenched in gratitude.
Alex Presha, NBC7, San Diego, California
RIAS was a life-changing cultural immersion. Not only did I learn more about journalism and German culture, I also learned more about my own country and its role on the world stage. Participating also allowed me to join a wonderful network of talented journalists. I’m grateful for this opportunity and hope the program will continue its tradition of excel
Ryan Delaney, St. Louis Public Radio, Missouri,
The RIAS program was a great opportunity to stretch a different part of my brain, away from my normal journalism assignments, and ask big questions on European and German international relations. It has motivated me to take the experience back to my newsroom and now think more globally while I continue to report locally. The other journalists I traveled with and interacted with while on the trip were all amazingly inspiring, kind and wonderful people.
Monica Quintero, Fox KPEJ, Odessa, Texas
Learning the value of international traveling and the knowledge that comes with it, was something I was taught 7 years ago. For the first time,I was able to incorporate that with my passion for journalism and my hope is to share the incredible educational avenues the #RIASBerlin program allowed me to have with my viewing audience. Our amazing group of
journalists also fueled my fire for journalism even more. What I’m reminded anytime that I’m outside of America is that in many ways we are all similar and many of us are battling the same issues. However, we also have some major differences between cultures and countries. The questions: Can we learn from them? Will it make us better? Sharing stories that matter, letting people ponder all sides to make better informed decisions.
Erik Runge, WGN, Chicago, Illinois,
I’m not sure what my expectations were but this experience has by far exceeded them. My world has expanded. I have more tools to add to my journalist tool box. I’m more informed so
my viewers and listeners will be as well.
Perla Lopez Baray, WFMZ TV, Allentown, Pennsylvania
As a journalist, I am committed to excellence in serving, informing, empowering and connecting with viewers to genuinely make a measurable impact in their lives. Participating in the RIAS Berlin program has been a fascinating experience that has provided invaluable information that I will utilize to have a positive impact in my community and the world. The briefings at the European Commission and NATO, as well as the parallels that Germany and the United States share on issues such as immigration, refugees and politics were among the program’s highlights. In addition, hearing the testimony of Syrian refugee Firas Zakri was incredibly insightful. As a bilingual journalist, in English and Spanish, I was also inspired by my multilingual European colleagues to learn other languages to be able to communicate with a broader audience. I am truly grateful for this amazing opportunity, the new friendships and connections and the overall experience. Muchas gracias Erik, Isabell, Lisa and the RIAS board for allowing me to be part of this year’s group of talented journalists.
Emanuele Secci, CBS News, New York
RIAS Berlin has been an invaluable experience. The variety of topics at the German, European
and International level, has been incredibly useful to better understand the challenges of both living and reporting as a journalist in this fast changing and intricate world we all live in. I am honored to become an alumni of this wonderful program.
David Wagner, KLST TV, San Angelo, Texas,
Wow what an amazing experience the RIAS Berlin program has been these last two weeks!! Talking to German Journalists, Politicians, and other policy makers has really taught me so much and opened my eyes to things I never thought affected me as an American. I would recommend any American journalists to apply to the program, it is worth taking vacation if you have to for the two weeks. You will need comfortable shoes just saying 😉 we got our steps in!
Mounia Touzani, Fox News, New York
The RIAS program was an amazing opportunity, I learned so much. I really enjoyed all the speakers and conversations we had — both around conference tables and on the street. The shape of the media landscape here and the awareness of world events was particularly interesting. The food and the people we met and enjoyed along the way was also great. I really enjoyed the blind date and the gatherings with the RIAS alum as well. Thank you for the great learning experience and opportunity to see both culture and media in such a new light.
September 21, 2019
RIAS group from USA on tour to Brussels, Cologne, Erfurt and Berlin
Ten American broadcast journalists hit the ground running on the first week of their two-week RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship. The whirlwind program began with two days of briefings from senior officials from the European Union and NATO along with meetings with journalists from Politico such as David Herszenhorn, the Deutsche Welle studio in Brussels with journalists and RIAS alumni Catherine Martens, Max Hoffmann and Terri Schulz — and at the ARD TV studio in Brussels with bureau chief and RIAS alumni Markus Preiss.
The next stop was a two-hour train ride across Belgium to Cologne — the TV media capital of Germany on the banks of the Rhine River. The Americans made a visit to nearby Bonn to the studios of Phoenix TV for talks with anchor Michael Kolz Phoenix staffers Cornelia Gerhard and Iris Ollech. They also visited the headquarters of RTL and NTV — Germany’s most successful commercial TV network and the country’s all-news station. Executive director Tanit Koch gave the Americans an introduction into RTL/NTV and was joined by journalists/RIAS alumni Marcel Gyzrb, Gesa Eberl and Isabelle Körner along with Nadja Kriewald, David Whigham, Martin Schulte and Malte Baumberger. There was a large RIAS alumni gathering in a Cologne restaurant as well with about 25 alumni from the Cologne area — some coming from as far away as Essen and Duesseldorf.
The Americans then took high-speed trains hitting speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour across Germany to the eastern city of Erfurt, where they met the head of the Thuringia state’s office for the protection of the constitution Stephan J. Kramer for interesting talks on the state of the far right in Germany and the upcoming election in the eastern state. They also met Mario Voigt at the state assembly building for a riveting talk about the political and economic situation in the state nearly 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell. Voigt, who studied in Virginia and follows the U.S. political landscape closely, even took time for the Americans even though it was a public holiday in the state — Kindertag (Kids Day).
They finished the week with another high-speed train ride to Berlin, where they met German-Iranian artist Kani Alavi for a talk and tour of the East Side Gallery — and his iconic painting from 1990 on the 1.3-kilometer long stretch of the Berlin Wall that artists from around the world have immortalised with their paintings. They also got the chance to see a spectacular multi-media lightshow beamed onto the walls of the parliament buildings in Berlin.
The second week will begin in Berlin with a visit to an ethnic neighbourhood in Berlin and a Hertha Berlin soccer game at Olympic stadium. The second week features visits to Deutsche Welle, RBB radio, the Reichstag, the Foreign Ministry, the American Jewish Committee, the Clean Energy Wire, the Stasi prison in Hohenschönhausen, the Berlin Wall memorial at Bernauer Strasse and the U.S. Embassy.
Here is a list of the participants:
- Perla Lopez Baray, WFMZ TV, Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Jordyn Siemens, KTVZ TV, Bend, Oregon
- Ryan Delaney, St. Louis Public Radio, Missouri
- Jessica Moskowitz, CNN, New York
- Mounia Touzani, Fox TV, New York
- Erik Runge, WGN, Chicago
- Emanuel Secci, CBS News, New York
- David Wagner, KLST TV, San Angelo, Texas
- Monica Quintero, Fox KPEJ, Odessa, Texas
- Alex Presha, NBC7, San Diego, California
August 27, 2019
New York Alumni Chapter get-together in Times Square
“Build it and they will come”
That is the working slogan for alumni chapters of the RIAS Berlin Commission that are spreading across the United States and Germany. Borrowing the idea from the line from the Kevin Costner 1989 movie “Field of Dreams”, the RIAS Berlin Commission chapter in New York City got together for a fun meeting with 15 alumni and friends of RIAS taking part on August 23 at a newly opened pub at Times Square called Long Acre.
”It was our largest RIAS New York Alumni get-together,” said Michael Gargiulo (center), one of the New York chapter leaders who helped organize the outing. “What I took away from this is that the alumni really love RIAS and want to stay involved.”
There were many US alumni but also alumni from Germany who live in New York taking part – such as Britta Sembach and Bastian Hartig as well as US alumni who previously worked in other states – such as Viviana Hurtado. Also coming to the gathering were: Jessica Prater, Tiffany Zeno, Adam Reiss, TJ Speicher, Bryan Weakland, Scott Soloway, Kathyann Gobin and Gabe Kinder. NY-based German journalist Christina Endruschat from RTL TV in Cologne also joined the group.
“It’s a sports bar and when they learned of our connection to Germany, they put on the game between Cologne and Dortmund!” said Gargiulo.
The RIAS Berlin Commission will be holding a major alumni get-together in San Antonio, Texas at the RTDNA EIJ congress on Friday evening, September 6 from 7-8 pm in the Travis A-B room of the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
There will also be a panel discussion on Saturday, September 7, from 2:00-3:30 on how U.S. reporters can get stories for their local news stations out of overseas fellowships and trips like RIAS. There will also be an alumni dinner later on Friday and an alumni breakfast on Saturday morning.
There will also be a first-ever alumni get-together in Houston on August 31 at 6:30 pm at the District 7 Grill EaDo, organized by Lane Luckie. There will be alumni get-togethers in Brussels on September 16, Cologne on September 18 and Berlin on September 25. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on any of these get-togethers.
July 24, 2019
August newsletter for RIAS alumni
The RIAS Berlin Commission has had a really busy summer with two programs in Germany in June (13 participants) and July (14 participants) and another coming up in mid-September (10 participants) as well as a major alumni get-together in November (30 participants) to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On top of that, we’ve taken one German group to the US in March (14) and will be taking another in October (11).
We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at the big RIAS alumni reunion in San Antonio at the RTDNA EIJ on September 6 or the panel discussion on September 7, or in Berlin in November. Below are some of the alumni get-together highlights planned in the months ahead.
The good news is that the alumni network is growing and thriving thanks to your efforts. The bad news is that interest rates are low and getting lower, which means the endowment that funds most of what RIAS does earns less and less each year. The investment income has fallen by more than 60% in the last decade and there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet.
To keep the programs running and with as many participants as possible, we would really appreciate your support. Donations are hugely important and helpful in keeping up the numbers of participants. For every $4,000 donated by RIAS alumni, we’ll be able to add one more spot to the programs next year. So please join us in donating to the RIAS Berlin Commission. Here is the RIAS Berlin Commission account for tax-deductible donations in Germany: RIAS Berlin Commission, IBAN: DE72 1005 0000 1160 0155 50, Kennwort: “Spende” Here is the link for tax-deductible donations in the United States: https://www.rtdna.org/content/rias_german_american_exchange_program
Please let us know if you’ll be coming to San Antonio to the RTDNA EIJ. Our reunion will be held on Friday September 7 from 7-8 pm in the Travis A-B Room. We invite you all to an alumni breakfast on Saturday morning before the panel discussion at the RTDNA EIJ at 2-3:30 pm.
Here are some upcoming alumni events:
New York chapter – August 23 alumni get-together
Houston – August 31 – alumni get-together in Houston
San Antonio – September 6 alumni get-together at RTDNA EIJ convention at 7-8 pm in the Travis A-B room, September 7 alumni breakfast and panel discussion from 2-3:30 pm.
Brussels – September 16 alumni get-together with US fellows
Cologne – September 18 alumni get-together with US fellows
Berlin – September 21 – “blind dates” with US fellows meeting German alumni
Berlin – September 25 alumni get-together with US fellows
Mainz/Frankfurt – October 10 – Rhine-Main alumni chapter meeting with retired US general Ben Hodges
Washington DC – October 11 alumni get-together with German fellows
New York – October 18 alumni get-together with German fellows
Berlin – November 6, 8, 10 – alumni get-togethers with US fellows
July 24, 2019
Brief comments from US students after summer exchange program in Germany
The RIAS Berlin Commission recently completed its second annual summer exchange program for US students – a three-week tour of Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig and Potsdam. There were 51 appointments with German journalists, politicians, think tanks, artists and media experts. There were also four lively alumni reunions with German alumni from RIAS in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Leipzig. Here are some of the impressions from the 14 American college students who took part in the program.
Juliana Amos, Journalism and Digtial Media, Queens University of Charlotte
Participating in the RIAS program for students has been one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life. It opened my eyes to a different view of the world. I learned all about German politics/media while also getting a more in depth understanding of the history of Germany and the Cold War. Visiting Cosmo Radio in Cologne, touring Tempelhof Airport, and visiting the East Side Gallery were some of my favorite parts of the program. I want to take the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through the program and apply it to my future work in the United States!
Molly Kruse, University of Oklahoma
here is no better way to help you understand your own country than to experience another one. After a crazy, fascinating, immersive three weeks of talking to German journalists, scholars and politicians, I am inspired by the huge differences in our countries’ systems…as well as some surprising parallels. Plus, being able to see and feel Cold War history has helped me learn way more than I ever could in a book. I will always be grateful for this transformative trip!
Kingsley Reigne-Pissang, University of Wisconsin-Madison
There’s a first time for everything and on this trip there were many. First time in Europe, first time learning about the Cold War, first time being brought together in the passion of social and ethical change; but above all, one of the first times I have ever explored a serious career in Journalism. My RIAS experience has taught me so much about the world, foreign relations and myself. Germany welcomed my group with open arms and allowed me and my peers to make lifetime memories. These 13 amazing people are going to do amazing things in the world, and they all have RIAS in common… coincidence, I think not.
Erin Snodgrass, Loyala University, New Orleans
My RIAS experience surpassed all my expectations. In three short weeks I have made lifelong friends who share my interests and passions all while exploring a city and country with a rich history and an incredible journalism landscape. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to visit historical landmarks and learn about the Cold War’s past and lingering present. Highlights included a Stasi Prison tour with a former prisoner; a lively discussion with the head of Germany’s far right party, the AfD; and short trips to Hamburg and Leipzig.
Allison Walker, Emerson College, Boston
Nothing could have prepared me for how valuable this experience would
be.The knowledge learned and connections made on this program has put me one step closer to my dream- becoming a foreign correspondent.Before the RIAS fellowship I had no
idea the extent Germany’s unique past has shaped their politics, news, and geopolitical place. Learning about publicly funded news from Deutsche Welle and the international perspective which is lacking in the states has been incredibly inspiring. Thank you RIAS!
Jillian Carafa, Syracuse University
From the Reichstag to ARD to the US Embassy, and everything in between, RIAS has been an incredible adventure and a truly one-of-a-kind experience. We were told on the first day that the more you learn about another country, the more you learn about your own, and that could not be more true in this crash course of history and culture. The ties that bind Germany’s people, politics, and media are built on a rich and tragic history, and those insights will stay with me as I return to America and navigate its uniquely complex media landscape. Thank you so much for this opportunity to study here and learn not only about Germany, but my own country and my own personal history.
Christian Nunley, University of Oklahoma
Through this RIAS Program, I’ve learned all about Germany and it’s rich history and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve learned about German media, politics, and culture. Much less European culture as well. As American citizens, we’re extremely isolated and this gave me the opportunity to dip my toe in the pool that is Europe. I’ve gotten to join a rich RIAS network that’ll be as helpful as any. Now – I can broach all I’ve learned to any in the states who are curious, and introduce them this perspective-broadening program.
Jude Ahmed, Western Washington University
I am so grateful for the incredible few weeks I have spent with the RIAS program. I had opportunity to explore Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Leipzig through the lens of Cold War history and draw connections to contemporary political and social issues. Meeting RIAS alumni both at their workplace as well as in informal settings allowed me to quickly cultivate professional relationships and learn more about the changing media landscape in Germany and America.
Michelle Ailport, Arizona State University
Being a RIAS Berlin Student Fellow has been a one-of-a-kind experience. This summer has been my first time out of the States – a feat I thought of as insurmountable as a first generation, low income student. Not only do I feel like I’ve been in a small part of history through RIAS itself and Marshall Plan funding, but I feel grateful for the opportunity to experience the wide array of history and modern journalism that is present in Germany. As cheesy as it sounds, I was excited by every new person, journalistic organization and piece of history I came across. I’m happy to say I’m coming back to this beautiful country soon.
Nicholas Scheffler, University of Minnesota
I came to Germany with a mission; to change my outlook of the world in some way. I began by making new friends. Great friends with whom I delved in the complexities of this country’s past, present and future. We conversed with politicians, journalists, and historians. We spent time with the locals. We saw new art and drank new beer. It’s fair to say, that with help of RIAS and the people I’ve met these last few weeks, I have acquired a new outlook on life. Mission accomplished.
Jen Cartwright, Western Washington University
I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible people I will likely ever know through the RIAS student program. My cohort is amazing and the value of the connections made in Berlin and throughout Deutschland as a RIAS alumni cannot be overstated. As someone who will almost certainly return to Germany to live and work, I appreciate the chance to network and learn a great deal about German news and media in the process. I enjoyed the historical context and tours, as well, considering Germany, and Berlin in particular, are rich with history. Herr Kirschbaum was a wonderful host and I cannot wait to see what the future holds post-RIAS, vielen Dank!
Michael Makowski, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The 2019 RIAS Berlin Student Commission has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my university experience. Each day brought with it new and exciting meetings, providing us many different perspectives in German life and politics and giving us the context to make sense of this foreign media and political culture. Through the many meetings and incredible access to different German media and political organizations we’ve had, I’ve gained a more nuanced and deeper understanding of Germany.
Ariana Lasher, University of New Haven, Connecticut
Words cannot describe how grateful I am to be a part of the RIAS Berlin student journalism program. This exchange was a wonderful opportunity for aspiring journalists to discover the reason for their craft in a new cultural setting; all while making great connections and friendships along the way. Countless meetings with professional journalists, politicians, and think-tanks were extremely beneficial in furthering my knowledge of journalism, myself, and the exciting world around me. Thank you for the adventure, RIAS!
Sinclaire Jacobs, University of Oklahoma
I am so thankful to of had the opportunity to be on the RIAS student program. As an aspiring international journalist, this program really opened my eyes to the various news organizations in Germany and how the media changed after the Cold War. I made amazing friends, listened to the thought process of intelligent and talented people and really made myself at home in Germany. I learned more about the history of Germany than ever before and met various people with first hand knowledge of the wall being brought down. I loved going to all of the different news stations in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne! The RIAS experience was one I will never forget because of the people I encountered, the lifelong friends I made and knowledge I gained. When can I come again??
July 22, 2019
RIAS announces dates for 2020 programs in Germany, United States
The RIAS Berlin Commission announced the dates for its six exchange programs in 2020 in the United States and Germany. The one-, two- and three-week fellowship programs are designed to expand horizons for broadcast journalists while keeping alive the spirit of Radio in American Sector (RIAS) radio and TV broadcasters that kept people living behind the Iron Curtain in Communist East Germany informed with news, information and music programs. The fellowships are part of a partnership with the RTDNA in the United States and RIAS Berlin Commission in Germany.
The two three-week programs in the United States for about 10 German journalists are: March 10-March 27, 2020 (Washington, New York and individual station weeks at stations across the country); October 6-23, 2020 (Washington, New York and station weeks at individual stations across the country). There will also be a one-week Senior Editors/Alumni program to examine the U.S. presidential election for up to 30 Germany-based journalists in Washington from October 18-24, 2020. Applicants for the alumni program should contact their local alumni chapter for more information. Applicants interested in the three-week programs should write to email@example.com for further information.
The two two-week programs for about 10 U.S. journalists in Germany are: June 1-13, 2020 (Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Brussels) and September 13-25, 2020 (in Brussels, Cologne, Erfurt and Berlin). There will also be a summer exchange program for students studying broadcast journalism, international relations or German from June 28-July 18, 2020. Journalists or students interested in those program should write to firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The 2020 RIAS Media Prize Awards Ceremony will be held on May 7, 2020 at the RIAS building in Berlin and the 2020 alumni reunion in Berlin will be held on May 8, 2020. There will be a reunion of U.S. alumni in San Antonio at the RTDNA Excellence in Journalism convention on September 6, 2019 with an alumni breakfast and panel discussion on September 7, 2019.
RTNDA and RIAS have had a close partnership since 1994. The participants of the RTDNA/RIAS exchange programs are part of a growing network of more than 1,700 German and U.S. journalists who have taken part in the no-strings-attached RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship programs that were inaugurated in 1992 after the Cold War-era radio and TV network in Berlin known as “Radio in the American Sector” (RIAS) was switched off.
Here is the 2020 Application Form for the summer student exchange program as PDF
July 20, 2019
Busy three weeks in Germany for US students on RIAS summer exchange program
Fourteen US students completed a busy three-week program in Germany to learn more about the roll of broadcasting during the Cold War and especially about the history of Radio in American Sector (RIAS). There were a total of 51 appointments during the 20 days the students from 10 different universities across the United States – from Texas to Minnesota, Oklahoma to Wisconsin, Arizona to Massachusetts, and Washington state to North Carolina.
Their visit to Germany was crowned with a visit to the US Embassy in the heart of Berlin right next to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building and a talk with Christina Higgins, (front row center) minister council for public affairs and the co-chair of the RIAS Berlin Commission.
The students also had in-depth talks with with top German journalists such as Peter Kloeppel at RTL and Gesa Eberl at NTV on Cologne, Cherno Jobatey at ZDF in Berlin, Michael Paweletz and Nadine Gries at NDR in Hamburg, as well as Brent Goff, Sarah Kelly, Melinda Crane and Meggin Leigh at Deutsche Welle. They also met German journalists at Der Spiegel magazine in Hamburg, MDR television in Leipzig, WDR in Cologne, and Bild newspaper, RBB, the Economist and KCRW Berlin radio in Berlin.
The students also learned more about Germany’s Energy Transition (Energiewende) from Sven Egenter at the Clean Energy Wire in Berlin, German politics with Barbara Richstein, a leader of the CDU in the state parliament in Brandenburg state and from member of parliament in Berlin Beatrix von Storch from the AfD party. The students also got the chance to learn more about the life of refugees from Syria and the fate of political prisoners at the Stasi prison in East Berlin.
There were four lively evening get-togethers with RIAS alumni in Berlin, Cologne, Leipzig and Hamburg — where they had the chance to meet and compare notes in informal settings with a total of about 80 German alumni of RIAS programs in the past. The students traveled by train to Leipzig and Hamburg, by bus from Hamburg and by air to Cologne. They also visited Potsdam by local train.
“My RIAS experience has taught me so much about the world, foreign relations and myself,” said
Kingsley Reigne-Pissang, a journalism student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Pictured on the right). “Germany welcomed my group with open arms and allowed me and my peers to make lifetime memories.”
Juliana Amos, a journalism and digital media student at Queens University in North Carolina added: “Participating in the RIAS program for students has been one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life. It opened my eyes to a different view of the world. I learned all about German politics/media while also getting a more in depth understanding of the history of Germany and the Cold War.”
Ariana Lasher, a student from the University of New Haven (pictured on the left), said: “This exchange was a wonderful opportunity for aspiring journalists to discover the reason for their craft in a new cultural setting; all while making great connections and friendships along the way. Countless meetings with professional journalists, politicians, and think-tanks were extremely beneficial in furthering my knowledge of journalism, myself, and the exciting world around me.”
The program is designed to expand horizons and shed a light on the role that RIAS (Radio in American Sector) played during the Cold War as well as give the young American journalists a chance to meet German journalists and learn more about the industry in Germany. The program is funded to a considerable degree by a German government grant from the ERP program. The students applied to the RIAS summer exchange program in early 2019. Applications for the 2020 program that will run from June 28, 2020 to July 18, 2020 can be obtained by writing to: email@example.com.
2020 Application Form as PDF
July 3, 2019
Second RIAS summer exchange program for US college students starts in Berlin
Fourteen U.S. college students and recent graduates heading into broadcast journalism spent the first week of their three-week summer exchange program on a busy tour of media, political and cultural stops in Berlin this past week. The program is designed to expand horizons and shed a light on the role that RIAS (Radio in American Sector) played during the Cold War as well as give the young American journalists a chance to meet German journalists and learn more about the industry in Germany
The students from 10 different universities and 10 states from Oklahoma to Washington state and from Louisiana and Wisconsin to Arizona, North Carolina and New York got a chance to meet German journalists such as Cherno Jobatey (ZDF), an anchor and reporter for ZDF public broadcasting network who told riveting stories about journalism and culture in Germany. They also met Andreas Rickmann, the head of growth at Bild.de’s online newspaper, as well as with Richard Meng, a former journalist and RIAS board member who offered illuminating insights about the future of journalism in Berlin in their talks. They also toured the Stasi prison, the remnants of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse, the Reichstag and met with students studying journalism and mass media from Berlin’s Free University during their first week in the German capital.
The American students will travel to Hamburg on Thursday and Friday to meet RIAS alumni and learn more about German public broadcasting at NDR as well as meet with journalists from Der Spiegel news magazine. They will also meet with Hamburg-area alumni for an informal get-together to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.
Taking part in the pioneering new program that aims to bring American students to Germany each summer to learn more about the country, the students will also get the chance to meet artist Kani Alavi — who was a driving force behind the creation of the East Side Gallery open-art art gallery painted on the east side of the Berlin Wall in the chaotic days right after the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989.
The students read extensively and watched films about Berlin, Germany and the Cold War to get ready for program even during their final exams period in the spring. Their extensive preparation helped them better understand stops to the Stasi museum, the Stasi prison, the RIAS building, the journalism department at the Free University of Berlin and the Springer Akademie, a finishing school for young journalists at one of the country’s leading publishing companies where they will meet young German journalists.
Trips to Leipzig, Potsdam, the Glienicker Bridge where Cold War spy swaps took place, a new Berlin spy museum, Deutsche Welle TV headquarters, the English-language KCRW radio station in Berlin, and to the broadcast media capital of Germany in Cologne are planned for the second and third week.
Here is a list of the U.S. students participating in the program:
- Jude Ahmed, Western Washington University
- Michelle Ailport, Arizona State University
- Juliana Amos, Queens College, North Carolina
- Jillian Carafa, Syracuse
- Jen Cartwright, Western Washington University
- Sinclaire Jacobs, University of Oklahoma
- Molly Kruse, University of Oklahoma
- Ariana Lasher, University of New Haven
- Michael Makowski, University of Wisconsin
- Christian Nunley, University of Oklahoma
- Kingsley-Reigne Pissang, University of Wisconsin
- Nick Scheffler, University of Minnesota
- Erin Snodgrass, Loyola, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Allison Walker, Emerson College, Massachusetts
July 1, 2019
Here are some observations from a group of RIAS Berlin Commission journalists who spent two weeks in Germany, Prague and Brussels in June 2017
Jeremy Chen, Reporter/MMJ, KESQ NewsChannel 3, Palm Springs, California
Being a part of the RIAS Berlin Kommission was an incredible experience that far exceeded the high expectations I had for the program. Being able to pick the brains with German and other European-based journalists, along with the movers and shakers in German and European politics provided invaluable insight I never would have imagined I would get. Hearing from both sides of the German political spectrum with the Green Party and the AfD Party gave a unique perspective on the country’s complicated politics. Not only did it allow me to learn more about Europe, and also the US itself through the eyes of Europeans. Thank you, RIAS for the opportunity to embark on this journey.”
Heather Dorf-Dolce, producer ARD bureau, Washington DC
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the RIAS program. As an American Journalist who works for German Journalists in Washington DC, this was invaluable insight into Germany. The program created a congruous connection between politics and history. It was fascinating to walk the Berlin wall with the artist from the East Side Gallery, and also meet with the AFD. The joining of history and the present is a wonderful way to learn. To speak to a member of the Green party, while walking his neighborhood, was a perfect way to understand his platform. Meeting with Chancellor Merkel’s press secretary, and then to combine it with a walking tour with a Syrian Refugee, was eye opening. The program brings history to life and puts it in context with current political situations. Meeting German Journalists and seeing their work environment was a fantastic way to bring everything we learned together. They were insightful, open and it is wonderful to make new contacts. Last but certainly not least, Erik and the group, what a marvelous, smart, curious group of journalists, I look forward to growing my connections with all of them and collaborating with all the RIAS Alum for future projects. Can I come again?“
Larry Miller, anchor, WUSA9, Washington DC
“As a self-described ‘thrill-seeker,’ I found my latest and most exciting adventure in my two-week RIAS Fellowship in Europe. Over the course of 14 days, my colleagues and I traveled to three countries, five cities and interviewed countless newsmakers and journalists in Europe.
By far, the most exciting opportunity was talking with Beatrix von Storch, Co-leader of Germany’s AfD party. We discussed immigration, climate change, and the rise of far-right politics. Few journalists have had to opportunity to engage the party on real policy issues affecting Germans. We were granted such an opportunity. I also developed a real connection to history—touring the East Side Gallery and visiting the Germany Embassy in Prague that was once home to thousands of East German refugees. Its one thing to read about past events in history books. It’s another to trace those important moments in time with your own feet. RIAS is committed to widening the knowledge and skills of journalists, both in Germany and the United States. I am truly grateful for the opportunity, the knowledge, the experiences, and new lifelong friendships.”
Roseanne Gerin, English News Editor, Radio Free Asia, Washington, DC
“The RIAS journalist exchange program was a fantastic opportunity to take a deep dive into German history and to learn about the country’s media, politics, and economy. The participants had rare access to prominent European journalists, politicians, and other powerbrokers through numerous meetings, briefings, and interviews in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Belgium. Among the program’s highlights were briefings at the headquarters of the European Union and NATO in Brussels. Thanks, RIAS, for a wonderful learning experience!”
LaCrai Mitchell, CBS News, New York/South Carolina
When I first learned that I’d been accepted into the RIAS Berlin Fellowship, I was beyond thrilled for what I knew was going to be the experience of a lifetime. What I wouldn’t have guessed is how participating in the program would change my career aspirations in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. Being immersed in the different cultures that characterize Berlin, Dresden, Prague, and Brussels re-awakened a love and appreciation for international reporting and politics that I hadn’t felt since studying abroad years ago. Meeting journalists like Jaafar Abdul Karim who discussed the lack of diversity in the German media landscape and political leader Beatrix von Storch who discussed the AfD party’s views on everything from refugees to climate change, clearly highlighted similarities and differences in the German and American media landscapes and political climates in ways that I know will positively improve the lens from which I tell stories. For that reason, I’d like to truly thank the RIAS Berlin Commissioners, Erik, Isabell and the rest of the RIAS team—not only for an incredible learning experience but for equipping me with firsthand knowledge that I know will make be an even better journalist as I embark on my next big assignment: the U.S. 2020 presidential election!
Kathy Walker, News Director, KOA NewsRadio, Denver, Colorado
Thank you RIAS! My world view has expanded, my connections to German journalists has begun and the gratitude I have for the foresight of the RIAS Commission is complete. As part of the #RIAS group of June ’19, I learned so much about German politics and history, and the role of radio and television in all of Europe since the Cold War. From meeting great journalists to members of the diverse community of Berlin and topping it off with visits to the EU and NATO, I can’t name my favorite experience. It was all great! Please know that the entire experience has enriched me and is motivating me as I return to my work as News Director of KOA Radio in Denver, CO. Most of all, I have new friends found in the profound joy of a fantastic learning experience.
Susy Castillo, Reporter, KTSM, El Paso, Texas
The RIAS Fellowship is a life changing program that inspires me to be a better journalist and all around person. Speaking with politicians, journalists, and people with one of kind experiences has helped me view the world a little bit different. While it was my first trip overseas, it was a very busy schedule that seems like a lengthy course on American-German relationships condensed into just two weeks. As much as we are different, we are also the same when it comes to politics, media, and life. I am grateful to have also been able to ask questions on camera of how people from the other side of the world view issues in my hometown which is allowing me to bring those stories to my community. Thank you RIAS. Even though RIAS is no longer on air, it’s still changing people’s views and lives in a positive way.
Roxanne Scott, Reporter at WABE News, Atlanta
I thank the RIAS Berlin Commission for giving me a glimpse of Europe through politics, media, history and culture. Highlights for me included the East Side Gallery, the walking tours of Kreuzberg and Neukolln and going to the POLITICO office in Brussels. I also loved the informal gatherings, such as having a homemade dinner with a German journalist; I enjoyed talking about everything from podcasts to public radio to HARIBO gummy bears. RIAS has helped me re-imagine my career and affirmed that I’m on the right path of telling international stories. Thank you RIAS for the spark!
Gina Presson, Producer, WEDU, North Boulevard Tampa,
Many thanks to RIAS for this transformational experience that took me back to the land of my birth and allowed me to see it through new eyes! It was a magnificently crafted tapestry of textures, histories and experiences. We had unfettered access to both newsmakers and news veterans, representing diverse voices across the political and social spectrum. It was an intimate, in-depth and insider look at the complicated dynamics in Germany and the European Union. This is particularly important, given this time of change, resulting from the recent European parliamentary elections, all providing rich fodder for many potential news stories.
Our meetings ranged from the press secretary working with Chancellor Merkel, the head of the ARD party, and a former councilman from the Greens Party, to a survivor of the Stasi prison, a Syrian refugee and the artist who founded the East Side Gallery painted on remnants of the Berlin Wall. I loved the blend of meetings focused on both historical and current events. Given my family history, born to an American ASA soldier living in Herzogenaurach, it was amazing to see the Allied museum in Berlin, including its photographic exhibit of life for American GI families in Germany. They very much resembled my family photos.
It was also an extraordinary experience to visit the major media outlets in Germany and to hear from their leaders. In a more informal way, I enjoyed getting to know the German journalists over dinner and drinks. Finally, what a wonderful experience to get to know such outstanding American journalists, led by our fearless leader, Erik Kirschbaum. He is a walking encyclopedia of information from both sides of the Atlantic. As an American who has lived in Germany for many years, Erik has a unique perspective on both of our cultures.
In a nutshell, the RIAS family fosters transatlantic relationships, deeper understanding of both our cultures and their interdependence, as well as lifetime friendships. It also is the source of many news stories to encourage greater understanding among our viewers, readers and listeners. Thank you for including me in this rare company.
Ryan Prior, Cross-Platform Associate Producer, CNN, Atlanta
The RIAS fellowship was a life-changing opportunity to meet directly with many leaders in important positions running the free world, as well as the journalists who cover them in Politico, the Economist, and many others. In an increasingly globalized world, it’s vital that as many journalists as possible develop this kind of first-hand knowledge of the enduring institutions in liberal democracy. As democratic back-sliding occurs across Russia and Hungary as well as Germany and the US, it’s vital that the next generation of journalists can understand how inextricably all of our lives are woven. RIAS provides this in a way that no other professional program I’ve been involved with has done.
Without question, the meetings at the Bundestag, German Embassy, European Union, and NATO, as well as my budding friendships with each of the fellows, have inspired me to push harder as an internationally minded journalist. RIAS helped revitalize me and to understand the importance of the work I do each day at CNN. My RIAS experiences will be front of mind on a daily basis, influencing the way I write, produce, and think on both domestic and international stories for many years to come.
Dean Kurth, Fox News, New York
“The Spring 2019 RIAS program included an exceptionally talented group of American journalists who continuously inspired me as we were provided incredible access and insight into the world of European politics, media and culture.”
Leah Donnella, NPR, Washington
This trip gave me the rare opportunity to step away from the day-to-day grind of journalism and actually think about some bigger questions: Why do we do what we do? How can we do it better? What assumptions do we make as journalists in the U.S., and how are people in other contexts challenging those assumptions? Meeting with German journalists who are covering many of the same issues that we are (rising nationalism, climate change, immigration, elections) forced me to look at these topics from a different perspective. The conversations were sometimes challenging, but always illuminating. It was also fascinating to be in a city that’s so immersed in history – and to learn about how Berlin in particular (and Germany more broadly) is grappling with its complicated past. So much to think about, and so many parallels to the U.S. Even though this program packed in a lot of very full days, I came back to my newsroom feeling refreshed and grateful to be working in this field.
Michelle Morgante, freelance journalist, Los Angeles
As someone who grew up when Berlin was still divided, being able to visit Germany as it is today allowed me to comprehend that life can only be understood backwards – and lived forwards. The fortitude of the Germans – and the Europeans in general – to embrace history as a means of caring for the future left an impression on me that I hope to spread. I am deeply thankful to have been part of this experience. This fellowship is one of the most important programs I can imagine for journalists and for anyone who cares about the political and social future of our world. Thank you, RIAS, for preserving this increasingly meaningful experience.
June 17, 2019
Journalists from the United States and Germany connected for several alumni get-togethers in Germany and Brussels during the last two weeks. The 13 US journalists were on a whirlwind two-week trip to four different cities — Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Brussels — and met their German counterparts in Berlin and Brussels.
The high-spirited and good-natured alumni reunions with the visiting U.S. fellows were organized by alumni chapter leaders in Berlin and Brussels.
The Americans also had the chance to talk with experts at NATO headquarters in Brussels, learning more about the challenges and different views within NATO on defense spending, David Herszenhorn.
Before flying to Brussels from Prague, the American journalists spent a busy 24 hours in Prague learning more about Radio Free Europe and the important work that the journalists there are doing for radio/tv/social media productions. Radio Free Europe is the closest thing out there to what RIAS did during the Cold War — beaming news, information and music into Communist East Germany from its offices in West Berlin.
In Prague the Americans also visited the German embassy, site of the famous October 1989 events that contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, and met with an enterprising German journalist, Kilian Kirchgessner, who covers the Czech Republic and Slovakia for various German media outlets.
While still in Germany, the Americans spent 24 hours in Dresden learning more about the Frauenkirche church in the heart of Dresden that was painstakingly rebuilt in recent decades after being destroyed by Allied bombers in 1945. They also learned more about the rebuilding efforts continuing in Dresden, a grand city on the Elbe River that has been compared with Florence in Italy. They also visited a Volkswagen factory in the heart of Dresden that is now producing electric Golfs.
While in Berlin, the Americans had a fascinating tour of the Neukoelln section of town where many refugees from Syria and the Middle East have settled, turning the Main Street once known as Sonnenallee into Arab Street. They also toured the section of Kreuzberg with local Greens political leader Oezcan Mutlu, which has long been a multicultural neighbourhood where many Turkish immigrants to Germany live.
The Americans also had lively discussions with a leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and with journalists working at RBB InfoRadio station with Benjamin Eyssel and Maria Luz from Deutsche Welle. They also had the chance to learn more about the work of Deutsche Welle in Berlin with editor-in-chief Ines Pohl.
ARD anchor Ingo Zamperoni stopped by to talk to the American fellows along with Economist correspondent Tom Nuttall and Berlin political consultants Julius van de Laar. German-Iranian artist Kani Alavi told the story about the East Side gallery and how he and courageous artists from around the world quickly painted their artworks on the east side of the Berlin Wall before it could be torn down – and how the East Side Gallery has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin.
June 4, 2019
13 US journalists take part in RIAS Berlin Commission program in Germany, Prague, Brussels
Thirteen US journalists arrived in Berlin on June 2 for a busy two-week RIAS Berlin Commission program in Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Brussels. The American journalists are from TV and radio stations across the United States: Texas, California, Washington DC, New York, North Carolina, Georgia and Colorado.
They hit the ground running on June 3 with a visit to the historic RIAS building where the legendary Cold War-era “Radio in American Sector” (RIAS) that beamed its news, information and music across East Germany was headquartered.
They had a riveting talk with Jaafar Abdul-Karim, a journalist for Deutsche Welle, and then an interesting meeting at ARD’s capital city offices in the heart of Berlin with RIAS alumni Daniel Pokraka, Dagmar Pepping and Michael Stempfle, where they learned more about the differences between public broadcasting in Germany and the United States. Despite sweltering heat in Berlin with temperatures hitting 32 degrees Celsius, the RIAS fellows also took a tour of the Reichstag parliament building during a busy week in Berlin where the
centre-left Social Democrat party was in turmoil after its leader abruptly resigned
This week in Berlin the Americans will also meet a leader of the AfD party, Beatrix von Storch, German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer, Greens politician Oezcan Mutlu, RIAS Berlin Commissioner Richard Meng, Deutsche Welle editor-in-chief Ines Pohl, Deutsche Welle anchor and RIAS alumni Brent Goff and RBB InfoRadio with RIAS alumni Benjamin Eyssel, Economist correspondent Tom Nuttall, political campaign consultant Julius van de Laar, and Clean Energy Wire director Carl Mohn.
They will also have get-togethers with German alumni from the RIAS Berlin Commission program and tour the Stasi prison in Hohenschoenhausen as well as visit remnants of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse.
During the second week, the program moves to Dresden for a tour of the city, the Frauenkirche and a modern Volkswagen factory where electric Golfs are produced, then to Prague for a visit to the German Embassy and Radio Free Europe before finishing up in Brussels with visits to NATO headquarters, the EU headquarters and talks with journalists from Politico, Deutsche Welle and ARD.
Here is a list of the American fellows:
- Susana Castillo, reporter KTSM-NBC, El Paso, Texas
- Jeremy Chen, reporter KESQ TV, Palm Springs, California
- Leah Donnella, NPR, Washington DC
- Heather Dorf-Dolce, freelance TV producer ARD and others in Washington DC
- Rosanne Gerin, Radio Free Asia, Washington DC
- Dean Kurth, Fox news TV in New York
- Larry Miller, USA9 TV in Washington DC
- LaCrai Mitchell, 60 Minutes, CBS News in New York
- Michelle Morgante, NPR West managing editor, Los Angeles
- Gina Presson, WEDU TV, Tampa, Florida and instructor East Carolina University
- Ryan Prior, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia
- Roxanne Scott, Georgia public radio, Atlanta
- Kathy Walker, KOA News Radio, Denver, Colorado (and RTNDA board member)
May 24, 2019
RIAS more important than ever, according to speakers at Media Prize Awards ceremony
About 200 RIAS Berlin Commission alumni, board members, former employees and friends of the legendary Cold War-era radio and TV station celebrated the 2019 RIAS Media Prize awards at a gala ceremony in the RIAS building on Thursday evening hosted by Helge Fuhst, program manager at Phoenix TV and a RIAS alumni himself. RIAS chairman Peter Limbourg, the Director-General of Deutsche Welle, and co-chair Christina M. Higgens, the Minister Council for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, spoke about the important role that the bi-national organisation continues to play. RIAS Berlin Commission Executive Director Erik Kirschbaum paid tribute to the work of newly created alumni chapters in Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Washington DC and New York that have helped keep the spirit of RIAS alive.
“If the RIAS Berlin Commission didn’t already exist, it would definitely have to have been invented by someone by now,” said Limbourg, who was filling in for RIAS Berlin Commission honorary chair Monika Grütters after the Federal Government’s Commissioner for Culture and the Media was held up at a European Council meeting in Brussels. “It’s enormously important.” Limbourg also urged journalists to report as accurately and factually as possible in an era that has become increasingly polarised. .
Higgins said that disagreements in some areas between the United States and Germany should not harm the transatlantic friendship between the two countries: “There are no easy answers to the many tough challenges that we face, and that’s why the free debate between our countries is more important than ever before…The willingness to debate and even disagree it is therefore not a negative. it is a sign of partnernship. And that’s why you may find the US government has been very vocal about asking all NATO members, including Germany, to ensure the safety of our energy supply, telekom networks and our national defence.”
Higgins added that Rick Grenell, the U.S. ambassador who is also an honorary chairman of RIAS, has stressed that Germany and the United States are “on the same page”.
“In the United States and Germany our societies do allow for this free exchanges of ideas,” she said. “And when it comes to liberty, human rights and freedom of the press we are on the same page. It’s important that we continue to fight together for freedom of the press as a fundamental right and RIAS is absolutely part of that story and part of that shared commitment.”
She added: “RIAS has stayed true to its mission. The Commission reaches a broader audience and a wider selection of media outlets and platforms than ever before. RIAS journalists cover a broad range of political social and cultural topics from all possible angles. It represent a diversity of opinions to a diverse audience and that promotes accountability and it does indeed spark public debate. if you follow our twitter feed, we like to spark public debate at the US embassy.”
In his speech, Kirschbaum noted that 737 Americans since 1992 have now taken part in one to three week fellowships in Germany, many of whom were in Europe for the first time. Also 885 German journalists have taken part in the fellowships in the United States, some of whom for the first time. There were 78 fellows on six programs in 2018, which was 24 more fellows than in 2017.
May 20, 2019
RIAS Media Prize Awards Ceremony takes place on May 23
The RIAS Berlin Commission will hold its annual RIAS Media Prize Awards ceremony on May 23. The annual awards ceremony celebrating 27 years of the German-American exchange program and the best of transatlantic broadcast journalism will take place at 7 p.m. at the RIAS Funkhaus.
Professor Monika Grütters, honorary chair of RIAS Berlin Commission and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, will hold the keynote speech and Helge Fuhst, a RIAS alumni and member of the Media Prize jury, will serve as master of ceremonies. There will also be a reception after the ceremony. RIAS alumni are also invited to take part in a panel discussion and alumni gathering on May 24 at 4:30 p.m. at the RIAS building.
This year’s prize winners are:
Rias TV Award
Barbara Biemann, James Jacoby, Anya Bourg, John Goetz: „Facebook out of control?“
https://www.daserste.de/information/reportage-dokumentation/dokus/videos/facebook-ausser-kontrolle-video-102.htm The documentary “Facebook Out of Control” shows just how much power the company wields over its 2.2 billion users. The filmmakers have brilliantly put together previously unpublished material to take a deep dive into the psyche of its founders and the question of whether the world’s most powerful company is bringing people together or driving them apart.
Rias Radio Award:
Tom Schimmeck „ Fake-factories – making profit with false reports”
Donald Trump has been shrugging off criticism as “fake news“ ever since his first press conference as President-elect. He has used that term often to discredit the media. But now it has led to a larger debate about what is true and what is fake. The documentary “Fake factories” impressively illustrates that debate and offers viewers insights into the business of truth.
Rias Digital Media Award:
Roman Lehberger, Alexander Epp, Roman Höfner: “The ‘Atomwaffen Division’. Insights into America’s most dangerous Neo-Nazi group”
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/neonazi-zelle-atomwaffen-division-das-hass-netzwerk-a-1225341.html This chilling story explores how the violent American Nazi terror group Atomwaffen Division is making ominous in-roads into other countries, including Germany.
Rias Fellow Award (Radio):
Eberhard Schade: „Co-Living in the USA – the all-inclusive apartment of your dreams?”
This entertaining story, produced during Eberhard Schade’s participation in the RIAS USA program, is an insightful exploration of what happens when gentrification meets contemporary career culture – forcing people well-beyond college into dorm-style living arrangements.
May 14, 2019
Alumni program planned for 30th anniversary of Berlin Wall falling
The RIAS Berlin Commission is planning two big alumni events for US fellows this year and two big events for German alumni. All alumni are invited to annual RIAS Media Prize Awards ceremony in Berlin on May 23 at the RIAS Funkhaus and alumni will have a panel discussion and another gathering at the historic RIAS building on May 24. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on the two get-togethers in Germany.
There will also be several alumni get-togethers in San Antonio, Texas at the RTDNA Excellence in Journalism convention on September 5-7, including a reception on September 6, a breakfast gathering and a panel discussion on September 7 RIAS panel – “So you want to be a journalist and travel the world for your stories? From the Texas border to Mexico to the Croatian border to Serbia, we can help you.” It’s open to all RTDNA members and non-members can obtain a special day-pass rate by registering here: https://www.spj.org/eij-register-oneday.asp RIAS will offer $100 travel stipends for all RIAS alumni traveling from out-of-town to who take part in at least 2 of the 3 alumni events. Please let us know if you’re interested and will be attending.
The highlight of the year will be a new one-week alumni program in Berlin for about 30 U.S. alumni in early November that will be timed to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. The co-financed program will include just two two-hour appointments in the mornings and an evening get-together with local alumni. Afternoons will be kept free for alumni to do reporting on 30 years of German unification or the Berlin Wall or alumni networking on their own with German alumni. The November alumni program will start on November 5 and run to November 11. RIAS will pay for hotels and program costs in Berlin while alumni themselves will pay for their own flights. RIAS is planning to have a reciprocal alumni program in Washington DC/West Virginia in late October 2020 shortly before the U.S. elections for 30 German alumni.
Please let us or your local alumni chapter – which will be nominating many of the participants – know if you are interested in taking part. The November program is designed to encourage and support all those alumni-building efforts. Alumni who have been active in the alumni network, have supported RIAS or are planning to work on stories on the fall of the wall are especially encouraged to take part. There is no formal application form. Please send a short email to email@example.com explaining why you would like to attend that alumni week for the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall and what, if anything, you are planning to report on for your network back home.
April 2, 2019
RIAS Berlin Commission fellows from Germany get crash course on trip to USA
A group of 14 journalists and academics from Germany recently completed a three-week RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship to learn more about politics, media and life in the United States. At stops in Washington DC and New York City during the first two weeks, the fellows met congressmen such as Mike Doyle (D-Penn) and Charlie Dent (R-Penn) as well as experts at Pew institute. They also had riveting talks with journalists such as Stacey Samuel (NPR), JP Burgard (ARD), Stefan Niemann (ARD), Martina Buttler (NDR), Martin Ganslmeyer (ARD), Bill Whitaker (CBS), Clare Toeniskoetter (The Daily at the New York Times), Michael Garguilo (WNBC), Tiffany Zeno (WNBC), Adam Reiss (NBC) as well as Germany’s ambassador to the United Nations, Christoph Heusgen. The fellows spent their third week at small and large stations across the United States. Below are some of their impressions of the fellowship:
Ann-Kathrin Horn, Deutschlandfunk Nova, Station week in Houston, Texas
Egal, wie gut man glaubt, die USA zu kennen und “zu verstehen”: Es erfährt sich anders und besser vor Ort, im Gespräch mit denen, die Politik machen oder mitgestalten und denen, die diese Politik für die Menschen in den USA journalistisch aufbereiten. Faszinierend waren die journalistischen Kontraste: Der Radio Nachrichten-Mann bei Bloomberg rattert alle paar Minuten die neuesten News ins Mikrofon, während die Journalisten bei der Fernsehsendung „60 Minutes“ sich mehrere Wochen Zeit nehmen für Hintergrundberichterstattung. Die erfolgreichsten Zeitungen vertrauen auf eine sehr neutrale Auflistung von Fakten und Äußerungen, die TV-Newsshows auf extrem meinungsgeladene Inhalte. Was wir gesehen haben, ist ein gespaltenes, irritiertes, verunsichertes Land, das dadurch allerdings nichts von seiner Kraft eingebüßt hat. Aus Obamas “yes, we can” ist mittlerweile vielleicht eher (wieder) ein “yes, we do” geworden.“
Cornelia Gerhard, Phoenix TV, station week in Tulsa, Oklahoma
“Von Washington und New York in den mittleren Südwesten der USA nach Tulsa, Oklahoma zur Stationweek. Starke Gegensätze: Die urbane, eher liberale Ostküste mit den großen politischen Themen, Sitz vieler dominierender Medienunternehmen und dem ländlichen, meist konservativen Oklahoma, wo Religion eine wichtige Rolle spielt und woher der mutmaßlich am weitesten rechts stehende Senator stammt. Es war eine sehr intensive und lehrreiche Zeit mit vielen unterschiedlichen Facetten dieses riesigen Landes. Das vielfältige Programm hat es möglich gemacht. Am wertvollsten war der Austausch mit vielen ganz unterschiedlichen Gesprächspartnern: mit Politikern, Menschenrechtsgruppen, Diplomaten, Meinungsforschern, Kolleginnen und Kollegen aus den USA, aber auch aus Deutschland, die entweder in den USA arbeiten oder unserer hoch sympathischen Gruppe angehörten. Ein Austausch, den ich sehr gerne fortsetzen möchte. Danke dafür Rias!”
Gesa Eberl, NTV/RTL, short 3-day station week in New York City
“Für mich ist mit dem RIAS Frühjahrsprogramm für Rundfunkjournalisten ein Traum in Erfüllung
gegangen! So viele lehrreiche und sinnvolle Einblicke und Kontakte im Bereich Politik, Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft und Medien in kürzester Zeit und perfekt organisiert, gibt es kein zweites Mal! Und wer kann schon von sich behaupten, daß er als deutschen Journalist innerhalb von drei Tage bei MSNBC, WNBC und der “Daily Show mit Trevor Noah” gearbeitet hat! 🙂 Vielen Dank RIAS!”
Lutz Harbaum, RTL Aktuell – Station week in Bloomington, Indiana
Drei Wochen, ein Land, 100.000 Eindrücke. Erster Stopp: das Gehirn des Landes. Eine Woche Washington. Wir treffen: Politiker, Think Tanks, Meinungsforscher. Zweiter Stopp: das Herz des Landes. Eine Woche New York. Wir treffen: Journalisten, Meinungsmacher, Strippenzieher. Dritter Stopp: die Seele des Landes. Eine Woche in einer Redaktion, mitten in den USA. In meinem Fall: Bloomington, Indiana. Dort, wo die Autos dick sind, die Burger fett und die Menschen stolz. Drei Wochen, ein Land, 100.000 Eindrücke. Was für eine Erfahrung. Danke, RIAS!“
Jan-Peter Bartels, Hessische Rundfunk HR TV, Station Week in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
“The RIAS program was an amazing experience for me, I came back filled to the brink with new impressions and information! It was a great look behind the scenes, into the minds and workings of all the people we met. And there were a lot of fascinating people who we met: politicians, thinkers, decisionmakers, journalists… Getting to talk to them, hearing their side of the story and discussing it in our group, gave me many new perspectives and insights. I really appreciate being given this opportunity, enjoyed it immensely and made new friends. I don‘t think there‘s a better way to learn about the USA.”
Maria Regis, MDR TV, Station week in South Carolina
„Es war nicht meine erste Reise in die USA aber mit Abstand die intensivste! Besonders gut gefallen haben mir die abwechslungsreichen Termine mit unterschiedlichsten Gesprächspartnern und natürlich der Blick hinter die Kulissen großer Medienunternehmen. Die offenen und spannenden Gespräche haben mir neue Impulse für meine journalistische Arbeit gegeben. Wir wurden immer herzlich empfangen und als Freunde verabschiedet. Ich werde diese Zeit nie vergessen. Ein großes Dankeschön an die RIAS-Kommission für die tolle Vorbereitung und das vielseitige Programm!“
Christian Avital, WDR Radio and RTL TV, station week in San Francisco, California
„Die Vielseitigkeit des Programms hat mich einfach nur begeistert. Ob die politischen Hintergrundgespräche in Washington, die Kollegengespräche bei der New Yorks Times, bei CBS oder NBC und nicht zuletzt meine Station Week beim öffentlich-rechtlichen Radiosender KQED in San Francisco: dieses Programm hat meinen beruflichen und auch privaten Horizont definitiv erweitert. Die drei Wochen in den USA haben mir aber noch eines gezeigt: Herr Trump ist zwar fast jeden Tag Thema in den Nachrichten dort, es gibt aber noch so viel mehr, über das die amerikanischen Kolleginnen und Kollegen berichten. Und das ist gut so.“
Anna Müllerleile, HAMBURG ZWEI – station week in Los Angeles, Kalifornien
„In den drei Wochen mit dem RIAS Programm habe ich so viel erlebt wie sonst in einem halben Jahr nicht. Eine unglaubliche und intensive Zeit. Washington, die Stadt bei der sich alles um Politik und das Weiße Haus dreht, New York – die Stadt, die niemals schläft, mit spannenden Besuchen bei der New York Times, 60 Minutes mit Bill Whitaker bis hin zum kompletten Kontrastprogramm beim Kochen für Obdachlose. In meiner station week ging es für mich von der Ost an die Westküste, ähnliche politische Einstellungen – ganz anderer Lifestyle. Während ich in New York alles zu Fuß gegangen bin, wurde in Los Angeles alles gefahren. Mal eben zu CBS gehen und ein Interview mit einem amerikanischen Serienstar führen, in LA kein Problem. Danke für diese tolle Zeit, die ich mit RIAS erleben durfte.“
Benjamin Eyssel, RBB Radio, Station Week in Seattle, Washington
“Die drei Wochen in den USA waren die lehr- und erlebnisreichsten Wochen seit Langem: Der
beste Mix aus Politik, Gesellschaft, Medien, Unterhaltung und Landeskunde – mit einer tollen Gruppe. Schade, dass man nur einmal am Programm teilnehmen kann.”
Christoph Tanneberger, ARD-aktuell, Hamburg – Station week Cincinnati, Ohio
„Wer über ein Land berichten will, der möchte es sich natürlich auch erschließen. Am allerbesten geht das, indem man eigene Erfahrungen sammelt. Das Rias-Programm hat dazu unzählige Gelegenheiten geboten: Begegnungen mit Menschen, die sich politisch und gesellschaftlich engagieren oder in den Medien aktiv sind. Treffen mit Leuten, die das Land, wie es heute ist, mit prägen und gestalten. Drei Wochen in den politischen und kulturellen Zentren der USA und in einer eher ländlich geprägten Region. Eine unvergessliche Zeit, die mir Amerika, seine Politik und seine Gesellschaft greifbarer gemacht hat.“
Andreas Teska, WDR Köln, Station week in Bloomington, Indiana
„Geht das? Ein Land in drei Wochen, Theorie und Praxis? Politiker, Vertreter der Zivilgesellschaft, Wissenschaftler, Medienschaffende in den Filterblasen in Washington und New York? Und dann auch noch ganz normale Menschen in den Bundesstaaten, die sonst nur überflogen, überhört und übersehen werden? Ja, geht! Was bleibt? Trump ist ein Problem, vor allem aber eine Reaktion auf Probleme, die sich angestaut haben. Und deswegen könnte er sogar wiedergewählt werden. Und wo bleibt das Positive? Präsidenten kommen und gehen, aber die Menschen im Land bleiben, und der persönliche Kontakt zu ihnen ist durch nichts zu ersetzen. RIAS macht es möglich. Ich kann das Programm allen uneingeschränkt empfehlen!“
María Luz Moraleda, Deutsche Welle, Station week in San Antonio, Texas
“For my first time in the US, I couldn’t have had a better start then with the RIAS program. Every appointment we had was unique and gave us the opportunity to understand a little bit more about such a big country full of contrasts. For me, beginning in the Capital, and seeing first-hand how politicians, organizations and journalists work was a great idea. Later, during my station week, I had the opportunity to go to the Southern border with Mexico and report for DW. The RIAS program provided me with a better understanding what different local citizens along the Border think about migration issues, which are spoken about (and tweeted about) daily from D.C. What I enjoyed most was the exchange of experiences and thoughts, not only with open-minded American Journalists in New York, but also among the German journalists from VERY different backgrounds. If I had to sum up this amazing trip with just one Spanish word, I would say…’¡Excelente!’.”
Marcel Machill, University Leipzig
„Die Mischung macht’s! Es war genau diese Kombination aus Politik, Hintergrundgesprächen und Medien, die die Zeit in den USA so wertvoll gemacht hat. Wertvoll deshalb, weil ich aus erster Hand in den Gesprächen mit Kongressabgeordneten, bei den Diskussionen in den Think Tanks und beim Erfahrungsaustausch mit den journalistischen Kolleginnen und Kollegen erfahren konnte, was die Vereinigten Staaten in den vergangenen 20 Jahren so sehr verändert hat. Auch bei den Medien-Besuchen war der Mix aus ehrwürdigen und vorbildlichen Institutionen wie „60 Minutes“ bei CBS und den neuesten Entwicklungen bei der New York Times, NBC oder dem schnelllebigen Bloomberg genau richtig. Und last but not least war auch die Balance in der Teilnehmergruppe aus erfahrenen und jüngeren Kollegen, aus privaten und öffentlich-rechtlichen Medien sowie den unterschiedlichen Ressorts so gut angelegt, dass the whole experience zu einem exzellenten melting pot aus Eindrücken, Austausch und einer ordentlichen Portion transatlantischer Gemeinsamkeit werden konnte.“M
March 27, 2018
Alumni chapter events in March in Hamburg, Berlin, Washington DC and New York
March was a busy month for RIAS Berlin Commission alumni chapters in Germany and the United States.
Two of the biggest alumni chapters, in Hamburg and Berlin, held a series of interesting evening events with local organizations in Germany’s two largest cities to talk about transatlantic issues while alumni chapters in Washington DC and New York City held get-togethers at popular restaurants with German participants on the spring program to the United States. The idea behind the alumni chapters is to keep the spirit of the RIAS Berlin Commission alive for former participants, RIAS media prize winners, guest speakers to RIAS programs and friends of RIAS. There are no membership fees and the chapters as well as their meetings and events are organized locally by a network of volunteers.
In Hamburg, RIAS Berlin Commission board member Melissa Eddy, who is also a correspondent
for The New York Times in Berlin, took part in a lively panel discussion on March 20 with Jiffer Bourguingon, a former correspondent for Der Spiegel in Washington DC, at an alumni meeting at the Villa Heine at the Elbe. The event was held in cooperation with the Business Club Hamburg for the first time and widely considered a great success with about 10 Hamburg-area RIAS alumni attending, including two-time RIAS fellow Ingo Zamperoni, and another 12 guests from the Business Club Hamburg. Melissa Eddy talked about her work in Germany for The New York Times, the mission of the RIAS Berlin Commission and her ties to the organization — where she as a board member she volunteers her time to help pick participants for programs in the United States. She also regularly gives talks to American participants coming to Germany.
In Berlin, the local Alumni Chapter joined the new American Academy Director Terry McCarthy for a “fireside chat” at the historic villa in the banks of Wannsee on Wednesday evening, March 6. More than a dozen members of the Berlin chapter gathered in the splendid library of the American
Academy to talk about current issues as well as learn more about the subjects from current resident fellows:
March 15, 2019
RIAS fellows meet Oppenheim, Whitaker and Heusgen among others on US trip
Fourteen journalists from Germany have been meeting American journalists, politicians, Pentagon officials and experts from think tanks on a whirlwind three-week tour of the United States on a RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship. The journalists on the spring group tour had the chance to talk with Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC news, in New York after a packed day of meetings at WNBC, NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo at Rockefeller Center brilliantly led and organized by RIAS alumni Tiffany Zeno, Adam Reiss, Michael Gargiulo and Bryan Weakland.
The Germany-based journalists also had the chance to talk to Bill Whitaker of CBS’s “60 Minutes” at his office following a tour of the CBS news studios. The group was later in the audience to watch a taping of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”. Bloomberg’s broadcasting operations were explained to the group at another stop by Michael Lysak.
Another highlight during the New York week was a talk with Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the German Mission to the U.N., who talked about Germany’s role in the world and the country’s seat on the U.N. Security Council as a non-permanent member. The fellows also had the chance to meet homeless and financially strapped New Yorkers at the St. James Church on Madison Avenue, preparing and serving lunch for about 120 people.
Another RIAS alumni, Clare Toeniskoetter, of the New York Times The Daily gave the fellows
insights into the success of the podcast that has attracted millions of listeners in just two years. They also talked with German journalists working at the New York Stock Exchange Heike Buchter and Markus Koch.
Before traveling by Amtrak to New York from Washington DC, the German journalists also had the chance to talk with congressman Mike Doyle (D-Penn) and former congressman Charlie Dent (R-Penn), who talked about some memorable disputes with President Trump. Despite unseasonably frigid weather and even snow in Washington, the fellows made the most of the week in Washington DC with talks at the Pew Research Center, the Women’s Media Center, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the CATO Institute, Freedom House and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Capitol.
They also had the chance to tour the Pentagon and ask spokesman Eric Pahon a battery of questions.
The journalists also had the chance to learn more about the media landscape in the United States thanks to talks at NPR led by RIAS alumni Stacey Samuel, at Deutsche Welle led by Alexandra von Nahmen and the ARD office with Martin Ganslmeyer, Martina Buttler, JP Burgard, Stefan Niemann The week in Washington was capped off with a get-together with about 30 US based German journalists and US alumni.
The German journalists will spend their final week at individual stations across the country together with RIAS alumni – from Tyler, Texas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Los Angeles to Seattle, San Antonio and Houston as well as Tulsa, Oklahoma, Bloomington, Indiana, and Cincinnati, Ohio
Here is a list of the fellows taking part in the March program to the United States:
- Christian Avital, ARD radio and RTL television, Cologne
- Jan-Peter Bartels, HR TV/online, Frankfurt
- Benjamin Eyssel, RBB radio, Berlin
- Renate Friedrich, NTV Cologne5
- Cornelia Gerhard, Phoenix TV, Bonn
- Lutz-Philipp Harbaum, RTL television, Cologne
- Ann-Kathrin Horn, Deutschlandfunk Nova radio, Cologne
- Sarah Kelly, Deutsche Welle TV, Berlin
- Marcel Machill, University of Leipzig
- Maria Luz Moraleda, Deutsche Welle TV, multimedia, Berlin
- Anna Muellerleile, Hamburg Zwei radio, Hamburg
- Maria Regis, MDR TV/online, Leipzig
- Christoph Tanneberger, NDR/ARD TV/Social Media, Hamburg
- Andreas Teska, WDR TV/Radio, Cologne
February 27, 2019
The RIAS BERLIN Commission is proud to announce the winners of this year’s RIAS Media Prize Awards. The annual awards ceremony celebrating 27 years of the German-American exchange program and the best of transatlantic broadcast journalism will take place on Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at the RIAS Funkhaus in Berlin. All RIAS fellows and past winners are invited to attend the ceremony and ensuing reception in the historic building.
The jury made up of seven distinguished journalists from the United States and Germany met in Berlin to pick the worthy winners in TV, Radio and Digital Media categories. An award for the best fellow story was also picked by the jury. Once again, the jury members were impressed with the high quality of entries in this year’s competition — a total of more than 70 entries were considered in the three categories.
The jury included: Anja Heyde (ZDF), Christian Wilp (RTL, NTV), Petra Gute (RBB), Susan Stone (NPR), Jamie Coughlin (US filmmaker) and Michael Garguilo (WNBC TV in New York), who took part via Skype. Also contributing to the jury’s deliberations was Helge Fuhst (Phoenix).
RIAS alumni are also invited to take part in a panel discussion and alumni gathering on Friday, May 24 at 4:30 p.m. at the RIAS building.
This year’s prize winners are:
Rias TV Award
Barbara Biemann, James Jacoby, Anya Bourg, John Goetz: „Facebook out of control?“
October 30, 2018, ARD TV, 70 minutes
“If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s most populous nation.”
The documentary “Facebook Out of Control” shows just how much power the company wields over its 2.2 billion users. The filmmakers illustrate the enormous influence the company has on politics worldwide yet also how Facebook takes so little responsibility for the divisions it has created. The filmmakers have brilliantly put together previously unpublished material to take a deep dive into the psyche of its founders and the question of whether the world’s most powerful company is bringing people together or driving them apart.
Rias Radio Award:
Tom Schimmeck „ Fake-factories – making profit with false reports”
November 18, 2018, NDR Info radio; 54 minutes
Donald Trump has been shrugging off criticism as “fake news“ ever since his first press conference as President-elect. He has used that term often to discredit the media. But now it has led to a larger debate about what is true and what is fake. The documentary “Fake factories” impressively illustrates that debate and offers viewers insights into the business of truth. In a thoroughly absorbing way, the feature shows how millions of Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp users can be manipulated when fed with fake news, leaving behind confused societies that are seeing the erosion of a common ground for information and debate.
Rias Digital Media Award:
Roman Lehberger, Alexander Epp, Roman Höfner: “The ‘Atomwaffen Division’. Insights into America’s most dangerous Neo-Nazi group”
August 27, 2018, RTL (Spiegel TV).
This chilling story explores how the violent American Nazi terror group Atomwaffen Division is making ominous in-roads into other countries, including Germany. A gripping report on the most fanatic of right-wing groups told through innovative usage of digital media that pushes the boundaries of online storytelling.
Rias Fellow Award (Radio):
Eberhard Schade: „Co-Living in the USA – the all-inclusive apartment of your dreams?”
July 16, 2018, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 20:08 minutes
This entertaining story, produced during Eberhard Schade’s participation in the RIAS USA program, is an insightful exploration of what happens when gentrification meets contemporary career culture – forcing people well-beyond college into dorm-style living arrangements. This cautionary tale about the tech and real estate sectors in San Francisco and New York is relevant for other urban areas, particularly in Germany.
February 22, 2019
Germany-based journalists heading to USA for March fellowship
Fourteen broadcast journalists based in Germany are heading to the United States for a three-week RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship that starts on March 3. The journalists will spend a week visiting congressmen from both the Republican and Democratic parties, media outlets such as NPR and Deutsche Welle, think tanks such as Pew Research Center, the Women’s Media Center, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the CATO Institute and the Freedom House. They will also visit the Capitol building and the Pentagon.
Their week in New York City will include meetings with journalists on Wall Street, at the NBC headquarters, the New York Times, Bloomberg and CBS News. They will also meet the CEO of the AJC David Harris and the director of programs at the Tenement Museum, Kathryn Lloyd. The group will also meet Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
The fellows will then spend the third week visiting with American broadcast journalists at their stations across the country, from Bloomington, Indiana, to Bend, Oregon, from San Antonio, Texas, to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Cincinnati, Tulsa are also station week destinations for some of the German journalists. Others will spend a week in Tyler, Texas and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Here is a list of the fellows taking part in the March program to the United States:
- Christian Avital, ARD radio and RTL television, Cologne
- Jan-Peter Bartels, HR TV/online, Frankfurt
- Benjamin Eyssel, RBB radio, Berlin
- Renate Friedrich, NTV Cologne5
- Cornelia Gerhard, Phoenix TV, Bonn
- Lutz-Philipp Harbaum, RTL television, Cologne
- Ann-Kathrin Horn, Deutschlandfunk Nova radio, Cologne
- Sarah Kelly, Deutsche Welle TV, Berlin
- Marcel Machill, University of Leipzig
- Maria Luz Moraleda, Deutsche Welle TV, multimedia, Berlin
- Anna Muellerleile, Hamburg Zwei radio, Hamburg
- Maria Regis, MDR TV/online, Leipzig
- Christoph Tanneberger, NDR/ARD TV/Social Media, Hamburg
- Andreas Teska, WDR TV/Radio, Cologne
January 29, 2019
Call for applications for summer exchange program for students
After its successful launch in 2018, the RIAS Berlin Commission’s three-week summer exchange program for college students will be back again in 2019. Students of journalism, international relations or associated subjects who have some broadcast journalism experience or are interested in careers in broadcast journalism are welcome for the fellowship. The deadline for applications is February 16, 2019.
During the first three weeks of July, participants will meet with leading political analysts, journalists, think tank representatives and other experts in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Leipzig. They will visit German government institutions, historical sites, and universities, enabling them to and deepen their knowledge of central issues in transatlantic affairs and gain a more personal understanding of German politics, media and history. The program runs from June 30, 2019 to July 19, 2019.
The program is funded by the Transatlantic Program of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, with additional financing from the RIAS Berlin Commission. Participants receive round trip air travel from their home states to Germany, ground and air travel in and across Germany, and hotel accommodations during the program. Some meals are also provided during the program.
Participants will leave the US no later than June 29th and return no sooner than on July 20th. They may arrive earlier or later than these dates, but must cover any additional costs themselves. Each participant will be required to contribute €500 to help cover the cost of the program and must pay for their own meals.
The application deadline is February 16, 2019. Leading applications will be interviewed by skype or FaceTime before the final selection of the program participants is made in March. You can download the application form here.
Please send end your application materials in electronic format (PDF preferred) to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 16, 2019.
January 18, 2019
RIAS Alumni Donations Doubled in 2018
Private donations to the RIAS Berlin Commission nearly doubled in 2018 to a total of just under 8,000 euros with contributions coming from more than 50 alumni and friends of RIAS in Germany and the United States. Those donations will help make it possible to expand the programs in 2019. All donations raised from alumni and friends of RIAS are being used directly and entirely for additional spots on the exchange programs for journalists between the United States and Germany.
There were a total of 78 journalists on exchange programs in 2018, which was up from 54 participants in 2017. The RIAS Berlin Commission is hoping to expand further to a total of 100 exchange program participants in 2019 with a special expanded one-week senior editors and alumni program November to celebrate, mark and report on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The donations in 2018 included 5,365 euros from 30 alumni and friends of RIAS in Germany and $2,545 from 24 alumni and friends of RIAS in the United States. There was a wide range from individual donors in 2018, from $50 to $500 in the United States and 30 euros and 2,000 euros in Germany.
The alumni chapters set up in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Rhine-Main, Brussels, New York, Washington and Los Angeles are helping spread the message on donations. With more than 1,600 alumni over the last quarter century, the RIAS Berlin Commission is hoping to double the amount of donations once again in 2019.
The main RIAS Berlin Commission’s annual Media Prize awards ceremony will be held on May 23 at the RIAS building in Berlin. There will also be a panel discussion and alumni get-together the following evening in Berlin on May 24. All alumni are cordially welcome to attend both events. In the United States, alumni get-togethers are planned for Washington DC on March 8 and in New York City on March 15. There will also be a series of alumni events in San Antonio at the RTDNA Excellence in Journalism convention on September 6 and 7.
A heartfelt thanks from the RIAS Berlin Commission to all those friends who made donations in 2018: Kerstin Koretz, Kevin Arnold, Sonja Christen, Helge Fuhst, Juergen Schleifer, Ben Fajzullin, Patricia Adenauer-von Berg, Martin Richter, Birgit Franck, Anne Kristen Sieger, Stephanie Orbach, Louisa Maria Giersberg, And Riekmann, Bartosz Dudek, Charlotte Potts, Matthias Baehr, Oliver Sallet, Maja Freudenberg, Christine Langer, Sarah Schmidt, Peter Twiehaus, Marcel Grzyb, Frank Hofmann, Erik Kirschbaum, Katja Weber, Michael Roetzscher, Anna-Maria Schuck, Felix Wessel, Christian Walther, Jan-Peter Bartels, Sarah Williams, Justin Campell, Marilyn Geewax, Adam Reiss, Stacey Samuel, Miranda Dotson, Stephanie Wolf, Gitzel Puente, Kane Farabaugh, Lane Luckie, Thomas Hawley, Bonnie North, Jessica Prater, Judith Snyderman, Bryan Weakland, Cameron Knowles, Emily Damm, Dustin Stephens, Carol McKinley, Jennifer Macdonald, Michael Gargiulo, Scott Libin, Okawa Hisashi, Helene Finn Kane.
January 7, 2019
Deadline nears for RIAS Media Prize
The deadline for entries for RIAS Berlin Commission Media Prize awards is rapidly approaching — January 15. The RIAS Berlin Commission annually presents awards for excellence in reporting on German-American or transatlantic issues. The awards are given for radio, TV and internet productions which made special contributions to the mutual understanding between the people
of Germany and of the United States. Eligible are all kinds of reports on German topics aired in the US or on US topics aired in Germany or other programs with German-American aspects in the fields of international politics, economics, social issues, cultural developments or current events.
The winners will be honored at the RIAS Media prize awards ceremony on May 23, 2019 at the historic RIAS building in Berlin.Awards are presented in three categories: Radio, TV, and Digital Media. In order to qualify a report must have been on a German topic aired domestically in the U.S. or on a U.S. topic aired in Germany, or be another local, national or international story of mutual interest.Entries from recent and former RIAS Fellows are welcomed, and encouraged. Entries must be radio, television or digital stories aired in 2018 and may be single stories or multi-part series. There is no length requirement. All entries must be submitted electronically, with a URL for the story, and an attached script.
Recent American winners include JP Burgard’s film on ARD and Phoenix TV about climate change in Alaska, Bill Whitaker from CBS’s “60 Minutes” for a story comparing prisons in Germany and the United States, Paige Sutherland of New Hampshire Public Radio about Germany’s handling of drug addiction; also Erik Olsen and Melissa Eddy in 2016, for a pair of stories on nytimes.com: Germany’s Coal Addiction and Germany’s Energiewende.The entry deadline is January 15, 2019. To submit, simply send a link to your story to email@example.com. Scripts and support materials are optional. Please review the call for entries on the RIAS Awards page for specific rules and details and visit our German/American exchange program page for more information.
RADIO, TV AND DIGITAL MEDIA AWARDS 2019
December 18, 2018
RIAS alumni chapters hold events in Hamburg, Berlin, New York and Washington DC
Alumni groups in Germany and the United States have been busy holding good-spirited alumni meetings, seasonal get-togethers and fundraising activities for the RIAS Berlin Commission.
The Hamburg alumni chapter recently had a fireside chat with U.S. Consul General Rick Yoneoka at his private reisidence in Hamburg that was organized by Nadine Gries (NDR) and Michail Paweletz (ARD). “We had great talks and got to know the Consul General on a more personal level,” said Gries, a RIAS alumni from 2016 of the dozen alumni that attended. “It was a good night for German-America relations and a perfect kick-off event for the RIASBerlin Hamburg chapter.” The Hamburg chapter is planning another alumni meeting in early 2019.
The Berlin alumni chapter and Hamburg chapter held a joint Thanksgiving dinner celebration in Berlin at the Adlon Hotel on November 24 that was attended by 35 people — including RIAS Berlin Commission co-chair Christina Higgins, who is the Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. It was a spirited evening and alumni from both Hamburg and Berlin said they hoped to have more such events together in 2019. The event was organized by Oliver Sallet (Deutsche Welle), Anja Heyde (ZDF), Nadine Tries and Michail Paweletz.
The Berlin alumni chapter will also be joining RIAS Berlin Commission board member Melissa Eddy at the U.S. Embassy on December 18 for an annual holiday reception at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin with other alumni groups.
In New York, the RIAS Berlin Commission alumni chapter kept the German-American spirit alive with a get-together at a German beer hall in the East Village called “Zum Schneider”. New York alumni Clare Toeniskoetter (The Daily at the NYT) and Michael Gargiulo (WNBC TV) report that the New York chapter hopes to start a tour of the five New York boroughs “one German beer hall at a time”. The next stop is Queens planned for sometime early in 2019. The New York chapter alumni will also meet the next group of 14 RIAS journalists from Germany on the March 2019 program at a get-together on March 15.
In Washington DC, a group of RIAS alumni got together for a screening of a new 2018 film “The Silent Revolution” in which the Cold War-era radio station “RIAS” (Radio in American Sector) plays a feature role. As Marissa Melton (VOA), who organized the event, noted: “The role that RIAS plays is really pivotal. It’s also great to see it making a difference in people’s lives.”The Washington DC chapter is also planning a fundraising event called “RIAS Rent Party” to try to help raise alumni donations to the $10,000 target for 2018 — or in other words enough alumni donations to add two spots to programs in 2019. Stacey Samuel (NPR) is trying to organize the event at a beer garden in Washington.
The RIAS Berlin Commission would like to say thank you to the alumni and friends of RIAS for their generous donations: Kerstin Koretz, Kevin Arnold, Sonja Christlein, Erik Kirschbaum, Helge Fuhst, Juergen Schleifer, Ben Fajzullin, Patricia Adenauer-von Berg, Martin Richter, Birgit Frank, Ann Kristin Sieger, Kevin Arnold, Stephanie Orbach, Torsten Beermann, Louisa Maria Giersberg, Arnd Riekmann, Bartosz Dudek, Charlotte Potts, Matthais Baehr, Oliver Sallet, Martin Guenther, Christian Walther, Eva Schmidt, Marcel Grzyb, Mirella Pappalardo, Laura Koppenhoefer, Peter Twiehaus, Kai Wessel, Anne Demmer, Wolker Witting, Susan Blum, Karl-Dieter Moeller, Andrea Lueg, Joerg Machenbach, Katja Weber, Silvia Tiegs, Katharina Borchardt, Dorte Stoermann, Dominik Jozic, Regine Muender, Michael Paweletz, Lane Luckie, Thomas Hawley, Bonnie North, Jessica Prater, Judith Snyderman, Bryan Weakland, Cameron Knowles, Emily Damm, Dustin Stephens, Jennifer Macdonald, Michael Gargiulo, Scott Libin, Okawa Hisashi, Helene Finn Kane.
December 7, 2018
Observations from U.S. journalists on program studying migration, border security in Europe
Lee Anderson, KTVZ, Bend, OR
Thank you RIAS Berlin Kommission for a wonderful eye opening week in Germany and Croatia.
I suppose Dr. Hildegard Boucsein put it best during our last “meeting” in the hotel bar in Zagreb, “There is no black and white. There is gray, and many shades of gray”. So true, and definitely displayed during the high level meetings we attended. The small group environment was conducive for great interaction by all. I had a terrific experience. I’m sure my colleagues did as well.
Major General Robert Bodisch, Commander Texas State Guard, Austin, TX
I may be the first law enforcement and homeland security expert to accompany U. S. journalists participating in the RIAS program. I must “confess” (law enforcement term) that I found the program to be without equal and the knowledge and experience gained from this trip; and having the opportunity to visit with very senior government officials for their perspective on migration and border security issues, was most rewarding and educational. Hildegard and Erik assembled a superior team of U. S. journalists who proved to be consummate professionals. The RIAS program provided tremendous educational value and it was an honor to participate in the program. Hats off to Hildegard and Erik, who were not only great hosts but extremely knowledgeable about the many issues briefed and discussed and were able to provide insightful background and clarifying detail on many of these issues that I had scant knowledge of.
John Burnett, NPR, Austin, TX
We effectively live on an island in the United States. Americans are obsessed with their own concerns and, as journalists, we serve this domestic appetite for news. It is essential, as global citizens, to break out and see other hemispheres and hear about their problems, to help reframe our own. Spending a week with the RIAS roadshow in Berlin, Bavaria and Croatia forced us to acknowledge immigrant and border problems more serious than our own. Moreover, the European backdrop of world wars, genocide, and the Balkan conflicts adds a level of complexity to the whole picture. Thank you, Erik and Hildegard, for extracting us from our journalistic comfort zone, and for swelling our stomachs with some remarkably delicious food and drink!
Tom Hawley, KSNV-TV/Channel-3, Las Vegas, NV
RIAS Senior Editor Tour on Immigration was eye-opening would be an understatement.
Over eight days we were given an in-depth look at the challenges faced by Europe in general and Germany in particular as, almost two million people from the Middle East and Africa have arrived either to flee danger or to seek a better way of life.
We were given incredible access to all sides of the issues. From a political party dedicated to stopping the flow of immigrants, to a governmental agency charged with processing them. From a Moroccan immigrant discovering a new life as a Berlin municipal worker, to a refugee Kurd from Iran stuck in a camp on the Serbian border with Croatia. It will take some time to process all of the information we were exposed to. I will never look at immigration issues–either in Europe or the United States–in the same way.
Hugo Perez, NMSU News 22, Noticias 22, Las Cruces, NM
The RIAS Berlin Commission has once again proven to be one of the best international journalism exchange programs. This one-week program took us to briefings with nongovernmental organizations, politicians, police and experts in the fields of immigration and border security in Germany and Croatia. It was great to hear about the various immigration perspectives in Germany, Hungary, Croatia and other parts of Europe. Immigration is the hot topic in the United States, I live forty-five miles from the U.S. and Mexico border in southern New Mexico, for me the topic of immigration and border security in this program was super informative. It was great to meet fellow journalists chosen for this exchange program from many regions of the United States. Congratulations to everyone at the RIAS Berlin Commission for a very well coordinated program.
Adam Reiss, NBC, New York, NY
Thank you so much for an amazing unforgettable trip. From Berlin and Munich to the borders of Austria and Serbia. Wow! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of RIAS and to see the places and meet the fascinating people others will never have the opportunity to see. I have learned so much that will add to my knowledge and better inform my reporting. It was a pleasure spending the week with some of America’s best and brightest journalists. I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed the trip and how it will stay with me for many years to come. I will certainly stay in touch and hope to see everyone soon.
Sara Wittmeyer, WFIU/WTIU, Bloomington, IN
I’ve been involved in the RIAS program for nearly a decade. My newsroom hosts German journalists every year, but it had been a one-way street. November’s trip to learn about borders and migration was my first visit to Europe. Erik’s reading materials provided good background on what the trip would entail, however the experience was so much more than I could have imagined. Our hosts organized an incredible program; no one could argue that even one minute was wasted! During our one-week trip we visited dignitaries from Germany, Macedonia and Croatia. We got access to important think tanks and people working on the front lines trying to make border policy and enforce it. People were forthcoming during our meetings and I developed a new perspective on migration – it’s not just an issue in the U.S. or in the EU, it is a global issue and it’s complex. I appreciated that we had the opportunity to meet with people from all sides of the issue, ranging from the Soros Foundation to the co-leader of the AfD party.
December 4, 2018
RIAS Berlin Commission fellows from USA study border security, migration in Europe
A group of eight American journalists and law enforcement experts recently completed a busy seven-day RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship to learn more about border security and migration in Germany and the European Union. The “senior editor’s” group that included experts on the subjects and RIAS alumni spent the week in Berlin, Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Zagreb and at border crossings between Croatia and Serbia.
As border security and migration is a pressing issue in both the United States and Germany, the American journalists spent the week talking to high-ranking experts from all sides of the subject in
Germany and Croatia to learn more about the situation in Europe.
Guest speakers included former German Interior Minister Dr. Thomas de Maiziere, Federal Academy for Security Policy President Dr. Karl-Heinz Kamp, European Stability Initiative (ESI) think tank founding chairman Gerald Knaus, AfD deputy parliamentary floor leader Beatrix von Storch, Hungary’s ambassador to Germany Peter Gyökös, leading Bavarian Interior Ministry officials, and Deputy Director of the George C. Marshall Center General Johann Berger. The Americans also had talks with Macedonia’s deputy minister of defence Dr. Bekim Maksuti and Croatia’s deputy interior minister Terezija Gras and Croatia’s head of the border police directorate Vlatko Cvrtila.
The journalists on the fellowship, which was organised with the help of RIAS Berlin Commissioner Dr. Hildegard Boucsein, also spent time with Syrian refugees in Berlin who have started a thriving restaurant in the Neukoelln section of Berlin called “Aldimashqi”as well as visiting migrants from Morocco, Syria and Pakistan who are on a three-year job training program at the Berlin Water Works. One year ago, a group of eight German journalists spent a week in Texas on a similar program learning about border security and migration on the Texas-Mexico border. Other stations visited included the new Berlin offices of the Open Society Foundations and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation think tank in Berlin.
Many of the Americans on the trip to Germany and Croatia this year were working on stories for their TV and radio stations back home in the United States, such as this report from NPR journalist John Burnett that aired on “All Things Considered” on November 30.
The fellows in the group included:
- Lee Anderson, KTVZ, Bend, Oregon
- John Burnett, NPR Southwest, Austin, Texas
- Tom Hawley, KSNV-TV, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Hugo Perez, New Mexico State University Journalism department and Noticias 22
- Adam Reiss, NBC TV, New York
- Yami Virgin, KABB/WOAI, San Antonio, Texas
- Sara Wittmeyer, WFIU/WTIU, Bloomington, Indiana
- Major General Robert Bodisch, Commander Texas State Guard