PROGRAMS FOR U.S. BROADCAST JOURNALISTS
Since 1994 over 1200 American and German broadcast journalists have participated in this unique transatlantic exchange, building bridges of understanding — professionally and personally.
Our alumni become part of a vibrant network by hosting visiting German journalists at their stations in the U.S., attending alumni meetings, and staying connected through the online Fellow directory and our website.
Two-Week Germany Program
each year in spring and fall
Germany Spring Program 2020
June 1-13, 2020
Application Deadline: February 1, 2020
Germany Fall Program 2020
September 13–25, 2020
Application Deadline: April 1, 2020
The RIAS journalist exchange offers a two-week program in Germany (with the option of an extension of up to one week for individual research projects and reports) to U.S. journalists, who work in radio, television or online.
The program starts in Berlin, where participants stay for one week for political, economic, cultural, and media appointments. In the second week the summer program moves to Erfurt and Cologne, the fall program to Dresden and Prague to see the changes that have transpired since German Unification in 1990. The programs always end with a three-day stop in Brussels, home to both NATO and the European Union, with meetings and appointments to discuss the latest developments of each organization. The participants fly home from Brussels or start their optional extension in Berlin or other German cities from there.
Program applicants must be full-time radio, TV, or online journalists, either staff or freelance hires. While knowledge and familiarity of German is preferred, it is not a requirement. We ask that applicants have a minimum of three years of continued professional journalism experience prior to applying for the program. The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION encourages journalism school graduates with prior work experience to consider the program.
Program applicants may apply for an extension in Germany of up to one week to cover stories, pursue individual research projects, or intern in a division of a German radio or television station. This request must be made at the time of the initial application.
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION exchange is a comprehensive fellowship, providing participants with r/t air travel from their home market to Germany, ground and air travel in and across Germany, and hotel accommodations during the program. Participants seeking extensions also receive travel and accommodation coverage.
- The following material should be included in your application package.
- completed application forms
- résumé / CV
- nominating/recommendation letter from your supervisor
- two essays (see application form > page 2)
Applications are photocopied for review by the jury. To insure the best print quality, original applications must be mailed to RTNDF, even if you have already faxed them. Applicants are apprised of their status within one month of the application deadline.
Send application materials by a chosen means to:
RIAS Berlin Commission
Berlin Program for Students
U.S. university students are invited to apply for a three-week intensive study program on
journalism in Germany. Funded largely by a grant from the German government and organized
by the RIAS Berlin Commission, up to 14 outstanding journalism or international studies
students will be invited to take part in the three-week program in Germany to learn more about
journalism in Germany, the role that broadcasters like the Berlin-based RIAS played during the
Cold War and the current political landscape of Germany….
Call for Applications as PDF
One-Week Berlin Program
for news directors and senior editors,
future program dates to be announced
Occasional Berlin short programs, lasting from a few days up to a week, are designed for small groups of selected U.S. news directors and senior editors. These programs are created on special occasions such as — but not limited to — outstanding national political, social, or cultural events of international importance.
Photo: Thomas Wolf, foto-tw.de
Individual Journalist Program
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION would like to encourage former American and German Exchange Program participants to promote and deepen their transatlantic ties through an individual exchange program.
American RIAS Fellows visit a Fellow in Germany, German Fellows in turn a U.S. colleague in the United States. The respective RIAS Fellow visits the host’s Radio or TV station, accompanies reporters on their assignment, takes part in editorial conferences and thus gains in-depth knowledge of the daily journalism routine at the hosting Radio or TV station. The participating visiting journalists should also research and produce stories, which can be aired after their return to their home station.
This one-week individual follow-up program can be sponsored by the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION with up to 1000 Euros for travel and hotel expenses. Preference is given to applications for mutual individual exchange programs with a U.S. RIAS Fellow visiting a German Fellow for one week, who in turn plans to later visit the U.S. Fellow for one week.
Eligibility and application details
U.S. RIAS Fellows submit their application with name and station of the German RIAS Fellow they would like to visit, including a detailed description of the planned activities during their one-week stay at a German station. Please indicate, if and when there will be a return visit by the German host. The annual number of participants is limited. First come, first serve. Please inquire about availability at the Berlin office of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION.
Repeat Program for Active RIAS Fellows
Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions about the Germany Study Program
- The following material should be included in your application package.
- completed application forms (3 Pages > Download (109 KB))
- résumé / CV
- nominating/recommendation letter from your supervisor
- three essays (see application forms ‘Page 2’)
Applications are photocopied for review by the jury. To insure the best print quality, original applications must be mailed to RTNDF, even if you have already faxed them.
Do I have to speak German?
No. There is no language requirement for the program, and you will not be disqualified for lack of German language skills. As with any foreign travel, some knowledge of the local language will help you, especially when you are out by yourself. However, most Germans speak English. Also, all official program appointments will be held in English or with a German/English interpreter.
What are you looking for in my recommendation letter?
First, we are looking for your news director’s support of your participation in the program. Second, we are looking for your news director’s assessment of your professional qualities as a journalist and your commitment to the profession. As you progress through the application process, we will talk to your news director about these issues in addition to reading his or her written recommendation. If you are a news director applying for the program, your letter of recommendation should come from your general manager.
When can I expect to hear something?
Final decisions are rendered in writing approximately eight weeks after the application deadline.
Can I shoot stories on the trip?
The two-week core program is tightly scheduled. Usually a half-day is set aside in Berlin for shooting stand-ups with a shared camera crew provided by the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION. No other time is available for pursuit of individual stories during the core program.
However, the extension program exists to give journalists more time to pursue individual stories. A shared camera crew (again provided by the RIAS Berlin Commission) will be made available for shooting stories in Berlin only for the first five days of the extension period. Participants work out a schedule among themselves for use of the crew. Other alternatives include hiring your own crew, using a network crew which you have arranged yourself, or bringing your own equipment.
How many people go on the trip?
Groups range from 12 to 20 diverse participants, and represent a range of experience levels, market sizes and geographic locations.
What expenses are paid?
The following expenses are paid by the program: round trip airfare from your home city to Germany; transfers during the program (usually by bus or airplane); hotel. Participants are responsible for passport and visa fees as needed, telephone, laundry, airport parking and transfers from home to airport in the U.S., meal expenses and any other personal expenses.
What if I want to stay in Europe after this program?
Many participants stay longer in Germany or travel to other countries in Europe at their own expense after the program. Although spouses and families are not permitted on the program, they can join participants after the program is over for personal travel. If you are chosen for the program, further logistical details on this option will be provided to you.
I work in local news and have never done an international story — am I eligible to apply?
Yes. Most participants work in local news. This program exists to introduce journalists to Germany first-hand, particularly if they do not have the opportunity in their own work to cover Germany and Europe. Many past participants have subsequently discovered connections from their communities to Germany that they never knew existed.
How do I fulfill the application requirement to describe two stories I have done relevant to the program if I have never done an international story?
“Relevant to the program” includes many types of stories. Most local reporters are not doing stories on the European Central Bank, for example. But look for stories you have done about people or businesses in your community with ties to another country. While we are interested in any work you’ve done relevant to Germany and Europe, we accept stories with links to any foreign country. We are interested in your best work that demonstrates your interest in links between your community and the rest of the world.
Examples of such stories include: reporting on a locally-owned company which exports goods to Europe and must learn to deal with the euro conversion; reporting on foreign-owned companies doing business in your community; reporting specifically on U.S. and foreign perceptions of an issue (such as speed limits on Maryland freeways vs. German autobahns); or reporting generally about issues that are important to another country, even if you don’t specifically make the comparison (e.g., education, biotechnology research, immigration, etc.).
Hosting German Journalism Fellows
You and your staff can deepen your knowledge of Germany first-hand by hosting visiting German journalists during either the spring or fall program. Fellowships last approximately no longer than seven days and typically involve one or two German journalists. There is no financial outlay required on the part of the station, nor on the individual host.
These fellowships are dynamic, interactive opportunities for both the host station and the visiting journalist. Fellowship hosts should plan on integrating the journalist into the life of the newsroom by including the German fellow in the entire news process, including planning meetings, street reporting, live reports and studio programs. In many cases, visiting RIAS Fellows have contributed to story production either behind the scenes or on the air; some are even interviewed on topics ranging from their impressions of America, to German/U.S. relations.
Hosts and visitors should view the fellowship experience as an opportunity to build personal and professional bridges that will strengthen their understanding of both countries. (Read: “Comments about the German-American Exchange Program” (next topic))
And, yes, one need not have already participated in the RIAS Fellowship Program in order to host a visiting RIAS Fellow from Germany.
For further information, a draft schedule for station visits, or to discuss being a fellowship host, please contact:
KC Schillhahn, US Coordinator
RTDNF German-American Journalist Exchange Programs
529 14th Street, NW Suite 1240
Washington, D.C. 20045
Comments about the German-American Exchange Program
Our briefings with so many of the nation’s top political, social, military and financial leaders, coupled with our ability to sample life in so much of present-day Germany — eastern and western — provided the best possible guide to understanding one of the most important countries on the world scene. A terrific program!
Peter Landis, News Director, New York 1 News, New York
It’s not just a media tour in terms of hearing the official line–you get ample opportunity to ask country. It was a very good reminder that the world is awfully small and even if we’re focused on a local market, there are numerous links ties between our two countries and many reasons to be interested in Germany.
Johanna Cleary, News Director, Alabama Public Television, Montgomery, AL
The most fascinating part of the trip was what I didn’t expect — that reunification was not a done deal — it is an ongoing process. This truly opened my eyes — he issues for Germany, such as thinking about losing the deutschmark as losing their identity – all these things that would have never occurred to me.
Doris Bergman, Producer, New York 1 News, New York
I was struck by how many of the problems we face in the U.S. are very similar to the problems in Germany — balancing the budget, should we cut taxes, immigration problems. It surprised me that Germany faces so many of the same dilemmas as we do, and seeing how they are working to solve them.
Mark Curtis, Correspondent, Cox Broadcasting, Washington
Hosting german Journalists at your station
Hosting German Journalists gives you a good opportunity to reexamine how you do what you do from an outsiders point of view. It’s a great learning experience. The chance to exchange ideas with your peers from outside the market is an invaluable tool for your staff. I think every newsroom — no matter what market size — should take advantage of this.
Rod Jackson, Managing Editor, KTVX-TV, Salt Lake City, 1997 Fellowship Host
I was pleasantly surprised when I started working on my series at how many ties Germany already has with my small state of West Virginia — and those ties are growing. I am glad that I was able to help my audience understand some of those transatlantic relationships.
Jim Wallace, News Director, West Virginia Public Radio
Germans and Americans have common roots, but more important, striking differences. By exposing ourselves to other cultures, we can learn from their successes, avoid their shortcomings and see our own country more objectively. This program offers an outstanding incentive for journalists to build a cultural bridge between audiences.
Dick Custin, Reporter and Weekend Anchor for WZZM-TV, Grand Rapids, MI
With RIAS in Germany 2011