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July 13, 2022

Impressions of American Journalism Students on ERP Program

The RIAS Berlin Commission’s ERP Transatlantic program was created thanks a grant from the German Economy Ministry. It connects American journalism students with their peers in Germany. The program is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of German andfunded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Economy and Energy (BMWi) Ministry. The American students came from universities across the Midwest, South and Southwest — Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

Here are some of the impressions from the 14 participants from the program.

Jesse Christopher Smith, University of Oklahoma (The Oklahoman): Spending three immersive weeks in Germany was a life-changing experience for which I will always be grateful. For someone like me who has never been able to afford to travel internationally, RIAS provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a unique place that will forever ripple with the aftershocks of history. Walking through spots along remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Hohenschönhausen Stasi prison and the Sachsenhausen concentration camp — morbid symbols and spaces of cruelty I’d only read about beforehand — suddenly made the harsh realities very real to me. Such painful history can be difficult to reckon with and move beyond, but Germany is trying to come to terms with the past. I noticed this tension between the past and present perhaps most acutely while listening to the personal stories of Syrian, Palestinian and Ukrainian refugees, whose lives have been upended by modern-day war but who have found in Germany a new place to call home. This is not the stereotypical Germany so many outsiders might only be familiar with through decades-old newsreels — it is a living, breathing, multi-faceted nation with vibrant cultures and proud peoples, not unlike the U.S. There is still progress to be made, but the effort is there, and it actually gives me hope that a similar effort for truth and reconciliation in America is still possible. I would like to play a part in that, in whatever ways I can as a journalist, and I would have RIAS and Berlin to thank for instilling this renewed confidence. Danke schön!

Mikaela Deleon, University of Oklahoma: Attending the RIAS Berlin Commission summer ERP program proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The program allowed me to submerge myself in the fractured yet robust history of the city of Berlin and Germany itself. Seeing the Berlin Wall, the Stasi prison in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, and the Tempelhof Airport were borderline surreal experiences after reading and studying about these historical places for so long. Visiting these locations in person while hearing from contemporary witnesses created such a rich and educational environment and allowed me to feel genuinely connected to the past. RIAS helped me to ground myself in history with an experience that can likely never be replicated by myself.   Learning about German media has also affected me deeply. The importance of our role as journalists has been reaffirmed for me yet again as I learned about RIAS’ role during the Cold War. Furthermore, seeing the difference between our media systems was also incredibly poignant for me. The part that public broadcasting plays in Germany was eye-opening, and something that I believe could be incredibly beneficial for the United States. One of my biggest hopes, when I embarked on this program, was that I would get to see beyond the American silo and that I would develop a deeper understanding of another culture. I think that hope was fully realized as we engaged with leaders in German politics, journalism, culture and arts. Peering at America from the outside and getting to understand the image of the United States from a different perspective was a necessary experience and one that I am deeply appreciative of. It has been a privilege to participate in this transatlantic exchange, and I hope to use my new cultural understanding to benefit myself and others as I continue to write as a journalist.

 

Oreoluwa Ojewuyi, University of Southern Illinois: As a recent graduate from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in political science and journalism, the RIAS program was perfectly curated to my professional interests. I jumped at the opportunity to have a cultural professional exchange that would build my repertoire as a journalist and diversify my worldview. The past two weeks in Germany forced me to contest with my own preconceived notions. The two weeks I spent in the RIAS program taught me the importance of globalization, historical recognition, empathy, and uplifted journalism as a key pillar of democracy. It was so interesting to see the key role RIAS played in German history from a German perspective. RIAS’ combination of history, politics media literacy challenged us to engage with viewpoints we were unfamiliar with. We were highly educated on American and German relations throughout history and the roles they played in the individual growth of both countries. Germany embraces all parts of its past regardless of how fraught it might be in order to work towards a better tomorrow. We spent time with people who lived through the Cold War, spoke with politicians who talked about the racism that still exists within German society, and met with Ukrainian refugees who shared their personal stories as they watch their country rage with war. Germany confronts its past head on. Its people uplift the stories of the past to work towards a better tomorrow. This kind of objectivity and acceptance of the truth is at the core of journalistic storytelling. Storytelling is a key component to connecting people around the world. Through every meeting with journalists, politicians and Ukrainian refugees we connected not only on a professional level but on a human level.  No subject was off limits. RIAS has opened me up to an endless network and through this program I was able to leave Germany with a wealth of knowledge I did not previously arrive with. 

Jason Stahl, University of Montana: The 2022 Student RIAS experience immersed me in the history and ambiance of Germany’s Cold War era and subsequent reunification. Among the books I read to prepare myself was Andrei Cherny’s “The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and

America’s Finest Hour”. I had a visceral reaction seeing this history come alive on the very first day of our program with the tour of Tempelhof Airport. I had a similar response when touching remnants of the Berlin Wall and standing where Peter Fechter was shot and left to bleed to death. Discovering how Bruce Springsteen fed the East German yearning for freedom was yet another resonant moment for me; I too know what it is like to be a youth in a closed society desiring freedom of movement and expression.  After the RIAS experience, I am not the same person who came to Berlin three weeks ago. I have been informed by different perspectives of how to approach journalism, own our history, and democracy. What I cherish the most about this time in Germany is the opportunity to see America through the eyes of Germans, particularly at a time when I sorely needed to be reminded that America can be a force for good and stability. I will carry these new stories with me in my heart and future work.

Marien Lopez-Medina, University of Oklahoma: Participating in the RIAS student exchange program was an eye-opening experience in my professional and personal life. I joined the program as an international student at the University of Oklahoma bringing a foreign mindset to the table and a thirst for knowledge about the other side of the world. Once in Germany, learning about the causes and consequences of the Cold War expanded my perspective on the effects of political ideologies on the people, the relationship between journalism from the United States and Germany and the power of the media back then and now. Beyond politics, my favorite way to learn about the Cold War was through the experiences of people who were categorized as East or West Germans and those who became allies on both sides. While reviewing the past, we also took a view to the present: the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how it is impacting European countries. As someone who comes from a conflict zone, listening to the history of Germany gave me hope — hope that I was starting to lose. RIAS has inspired me to use my career in journalism to continue building bridges around the world.

Jenna Calderón, Miami University: Before coming to Berlin, I really had no

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expectations for what our three weeks would look like and could have never guessed the impact the program would have on me. Not only have I gained general life experience from navigating public transportation on my own, picking up a bit of German and taking a walk through the country’s history, I’ve also received invaluable insight into the field of journalism through a whole new perspective. Whether through formal meetings with political figures or chats over coffee with professional journalists, I always left our events feeling inspired. Thank you RIAS for the opportunity of a lifetime!

Noah Mack, University of Oklahoma: I have learned so much during my journey in Germany, and it is hard to condense it all down to a few sentences. In short, I have learned that human connection penetrates cultural and linguistic

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boundaries, and spreading those connections to others is at the heart of my job. I met so many remarkable people on this program, all with their own story; all stories on the broader timeline of Germany’s history. I knew the history before, but after these 3 weeks, I vicariously lived it through these people. East Side Gallery artist Kani Alavi did not speak English, but his smile and enthusiasm for art spoke to me more than anything he could have said. Emotions are what connect people, and storytelling is a mechanism to spread those emotions around the world. Meeting with the Ukrainian refugees on our last day was the most meaningful experience of the trip. Not only did I get to listen to their harrowing stories, but I got to have lunch with them, laugh with them, and become friends with them. Before I left the lunch, a wonderful woman named Nadin told me when I get back to the United States, to “talk about this war” and tell their story. I have never been more sure about my career than in that moment.

Sasha Hartzell, University of Arizona: The innumerable experiences I had in Germany through RIAS’ student program are still sinking in. Learning Germany’s history through the lens of media and journalism, and how that history has

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shaped the country’s present, was not only fascinating but incredibly relevant for the U.S. Every day was packed with appointments, and each meeting consistently exceeded expectations. We learned from journalists, producers, anchors, politicians, historians, activists, and artists, and always from each other. The three weeks flew by; the knowledge, perspective, and inspiration gained will last a lifetime.

Dayana Villanueva, New Mexico State University: The ERP program was an opportunity to immerse myself entirely in Germany’s history, media, cultural and political aspects. The adventure started from getting lost in the Berlin metro system to running from one meeting to another like ordinary Berliners, to having

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the opportunity to talk — without filters — to amazing people like refugees, politicians, experts, and reporters from Germany. One of the most remarkable and privileged moments for me was visiting the Bundespressekonferenz, a forum created by journalists who report exclusively about the government for German and foreign media. I was inspired by the reporters’ aim to invite federal government representatives to press conferences three times each week and interview them. Going there represented a change in my perspective on how journalism can be respected and valued in my home country. The most joyful and insightful conversations happened while walking around cultural and historic neighborhoods, such as diving into the Neukölln neighborhood with Firas Zahri, a Syrian refugee. With a map in hand, Firas narrated his journey to get into Germany in 2015 by land, air, and water. He led us at the end of the tour to the best chicken shawarma in town, Aldimashqi restaurant, which was created by Syrian refugees. It was enriching to have deep conversations about important topics such as refugees and enjoy their culture. The biggest takeaway from this program can be summarized by what Director-General Deutsche Welle Peter Limbourg said in the last meeting “Look for new solutions coming here and imitate others that make you feel yourself.” I look forward to returning to the United States and implementing learnings from these experiences.

Brandon Leis, University of Wisconsin – Madison: I really don’t know where to begin. The program was certainly ambitious, yet worth every minute. Even though I studied English literature and not journalism, I was very excited and grateful to have the opportunity to learn more about journalism as well as German-American relations. Between meeting Fabrizio Micallizzi, Germany’s Chief of Staff to the Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation, to better understand Germany’s involvement in the European Union. Or having the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Der Spiegel in Hamburg and learning first hand the rigorous process of fact checking. As well as having the chance to better understand America’s role in helping reunify East and West Germany into one nation by visiting various museums. These are just a few of the things that made the program a once and a lifetime opportunity. Someone once told me that being able to travel outside your home country is not only a great source of pleasure but is also an education in itself. After the last 3 weeks I can confirm that this sentiment is true. I came in with the goal to learn more about the profession of journalism as well as what life is like in Germany and I walked away with just that. But not only did I have a chance to learn more about journalism and Germany, I was also given a renewed appreciation for my home country. A showcase of American leadership; becoming a part of the ‘Radio In the American Sector’ legacy has made me proud of where I am from while also motivating me to continue to stand up for any and all necessary change in the U.S. I will carry these things with me for a very long time, as my participation in this program truly was an eye opening.

Madison Rae Karas, Temple University: After having our original RIAS fellowship postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, this year’s program was well worth the two-year wait. During the action-packed

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schedule in Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, and Cologne, I gained a more complex understanding of transatlantic relations and German and American identities than I had previously. Learning how our two countries supported and depended on each other in the past, and how they are uniquely dealing with their dichotomies and polarization in the present, gave me a more nuanced outlook on current issues. Our program’s blend of activities and speakers in news, media, history, and politics also allowed us to question pertinent topics, like energy and inflation, from various perspectives. In addition, it was an invaluable experience to meet and hear the stories of people who experienced some of Europe’s most historic events in many of our meetings and tours. I look forward to bringing my knowledge back to the U.S., visiting Germany again soon, and becoming a part of the RIAS Alumni Network.

Marlowe Starling, University of Florida: Berlin, a city bursting with energy, was the perfect place to witness how history and modernity have together laid the foundation for a fascinating and vital free press here in Germany. As we hurried between appointments with the biggest names in broadcast at ARD, RTL and WeltTV, some of my favorite moments were ordering ice cream in rudimentary German and discovering the magic of Berlin’s duality. “There’s still the wall in our minds,” one tour guide told us on the border of the old east and west. Someone else said there was a wall in her heart. Hearing these words, I realized it’s not just in Berlin that people hold on to the remains of a vicious divide; it exists in the US, too, where the wall in the mind is perhaps even stronger despite never having a wall in the first place. This experience with RIAS has brought not only great knowledge and opportunities to explore the “true Berlin,” but also the chance to reflect on our own “American identity” — an identity equally in crisis, and one with no single definition.  As an environmental reporter, I also had the great opportunity to learn about Germany as a leader in renewable energy—even amid the impending energy crisis from the cut-off of Russian oil supply. As an aspiring international journalist, this program has given me a taste of what it means to report abroad and the value of bringing an outside perspective to reporting in another country. I am hopeful that the United States can, like Germany, learn to acknowledge its history for a better-informed future.

Carlee Pascual, University of Oklahoma: RIAS provided me an experience I will never get the opportunity to relive. I loved the sights, but nothing will ever compare to the people I had the privilege of encountering. My program mates will be my friends for years to come. They each added something new to my life. The German people I met on my trip have helped me see things from a completely new lens. I look forward to taking their perspectives into the next years of my life. More than anything, I have a renewed faith in the power of universal human rights and kindness. The United States can change and I look forward to helping it happen. I look forward to seeing RIAS become more than it is today. I look forward to seeing the RIAS network grow. I am honored to join its ranks. Thank you RIAS! Thank you Germany!

 

Evette Giron, University of Central Oklahoma: The RIAS student program was a life changing experience for me. I honestly did not know what to expect from our three weeks. I appreciate the Germany government investing in students like me. I learned so much about Germans politics and German media, topics I otherwise would not have studied in the U.S. I really enjoyed meeting with local politicians who are committed to making a difference in their country is a once in a lifetime opportunity. My favorite experience during the program was meeting Ukrainian mothers who fled the war. It was truly emotional and I have heard similar stories from Afghan refugees in the U.S. This experience solidified my desire to work on protecting human rights. I do hope that RIAS keeps helping and inspiring young journalists like me to continue our pursuit.

Erik Kirschbaum, Executive Director RIAS Berlin Commission: It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to spend three weeks zipping around Berlin
and across Germany to meet journalists and newsmakers in Leipzig, Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin with a delightful group of 14 smart, savvy, young American journalists and journalism students — many traveling outside the Midwest, South or Southwest for the first time. Their hunger to learn more about Germany, their insatiable curiosity, their great questions and their impressive pre-program preparations for this fast-paced adventure with as many as five meetings a day knocked my socks off. As one experienced German journalist later told me after being inundated with their questions told me: “After meeting your group, I’m no longer worried about the future of journalism.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.


July 9, 2022

RIAS ERP Transatlantic student program connects Germany, USA

American journalism students in front of the Brandenburg Gate before meetings inside the US Embassy at Pariser Platz

A group of young American journalists and journalism students spent three riveting weeks learning more about the role of broadcasting media during the Cold War and in the process a lot more than they had expected about the history of the United States and Germany.

At the entrance to the RIAS building in Berlin

In the process of meeting with journalists, historians, activists, political leaders, refugees, artists, musicians and ordinary Germans during a busy 21-day program, the Americans discovered what an important and historical role their country played in defending freedom in West Germany and Western Europe throughout the post-war Cold War era.

Although they came to Germany to learn more about broadcasting journalism past and present, many of the young Americans seemed surprised to learn about what a force for good the United States had been in supporting West Berlin and West Germany during the Soviet blockade, the Airlift and after the Berlin Wall was built. They also learned about how the United States is still looked upon as a beacon of democracy and values despite the domestic political divisions that have roiled the country in recent decades.

Oreoluwa Ojewuyi makes a point at meeting with German apprentices at WDR TV

After visits to Leipzig and Hamburg in the first two weeks, their third and final week began in Berlin with a visit to the legendary RIAS building in Berlin’s Schöneberg district for a tour that included one of the historic RIAS broadcasting studios that has been preserved in its original form for posterity. Deutschlandradio talk show host Vladimir Balzer gave the American journalists a riveting talk about his career and work at the national public broadcaster.

Andrej Hermlin, family & Swingin’ Hermlins meet RIAS student journalists from USA

The goal of the ERP program, which was created with support from a grant from the Economy Ministry, is to expand horizons, help connect young American journalism students with their peers in Germany and help aspiring journalists in both countries learn more about journalism training in each others’ countries. The ERP program is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Economy and Energy (BMWi) Ministry.

Fabrizio Micalizzi meets American ERP journalists at Foreign Ministry

They also went into the Foreign Ministry to meet Fabrizio Micalizzi, chief of staff for Transatlantic Coordinator Michael Link for an engaging discussion about Germany’s relations with the United States, and visited Andrej Hermlin for a talk about culture in Germany and watch his Swingin’ Hermlins performance their on their regular broadcast from his living room.

Former Phoenix TV anchor and Warner executive Michael Kolz meets Americans in Berlin

They also met former anchor and Warner executive Michael Kolz at a Berlin beer garden and watched a spectacular multi-media light show about the history of the Reichstag and democracy in Germany that was beamed after sunset onto the walls of parliamentary office buildings.

Two busy days in Cologne including fascinating talks with young journalists from the youth-orientated RTL2 news program and its executive producer Mira Klose as well as a meeting with WDR’s head of TV Ellen Ehni, who offered candid insights into the challenges facing women and executives.

WDR news head Ellen Ehni meets Americans in Cologne

The Americans also had the chance to meet a group of a dozen WDR apprentices to learn more about the differences in Germany about on-the-job-training opportunities for young Germans starting out in the business before meeting a dozen RIAS alumni at a chapter meeting at a Cologne beer garden.

ARD Morgenmagazin anchors Anna Planken and Til Nassif meet Americans for early-morning talk at WDR Funkhaus Cafe

ARD Morgenmagazin anchors Anna Planken and Til Nassif spent more than an hour and a half candidly answering questions from the young Americans about their careers, waking up in the very early morning hours every day for work, and the challenges of morning news programs. The Americans also got insights into the world of the all-news NTV network with a talk from veteran correspondent Carsten Lueb before exploring the center of Cologne, including its famous Cathedral.

American journalism students in front of the Cologne Cathedral
American students in front of the Rhine River

The Americans also had the chance to visit the US Embassy in the heart of Berlin for illuminating talks about the role of the United States in Germany and they had an at-times emotional, at-times joyful meeting with several Ukrainian women and their children who have been sheltering in Berlin since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. The women and their children told about the generosity of the Germans in providing them with shelter and support but also of the harrows of the war in Ukraine and the difficult phone calls they have daily with their family and loved ones back at home in Ukraine. Some of the Americans called the meeting with the Ukrainians one of the most moving and powerful of the whole three-week program.

Meeting Ukrainian women and their children in Berlin

July 3, 2022

American journalism students on 3-week fellowship to Germany

The third annual RIAS Berlin ERP fellowship for American students in Germany got off to a busy start with dozens of meetings with German journalists, editors, directors, politicians, community leaders, experts and political analysts. The Americans will spend a total of three weeks in Germany, learning more about the role that broadcast journalism, including from the legendary Radio in American Sector Radio and TV broadcaster (RIAS), played in the peaceful conclusion to the Cold War.

RTL Direkt anchor Jan Hofer meets American students after his show in Berlin

The students came to Germany on June 19 from universities across the Midwest, South and Southwest — such as Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. For many of the American students it was their first trip outside the United States and for some the first journey outside their home region.

German government deputy spokesman Wolfgang Büchner also met the group.

Wolfgang Büchner, deputy German government spokesman, met American students at his offices in Berlin

The goal of the ERP program, which was created with support from a grant from the Economy Ministry, is to expand horizons, help connect young American journalism students with their peers in Germany and help aspiring journalists in both countries learn more about journalism training in each others’ countries.

WeltTV editor-in-chief Jan Philipp Burgard talks to American students at his offices

The ERP program is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Economy and Energy (BMWi) Ministry.

American students on the TV set at WeltTV

Although most of the three-week program takes place in Berlin, the students have also made excursions to Leipzig and Hamburg. They will also be spending two days in Cologne in their third and final week before flying home to the United  States on July 9.

American journalism students on their way to dinner at Syrian restaurant after walking tour of Neukölln district

In Berlin, some of the highlights included watching NTV’s early morning “Frühstart” news interview program with SPD party chair Lars Klingbeil being interviewed by RIAS alumni Daniel Heyd. Klingbeil also answered questions from the young Americans and admitted he and his family enjoy taking their vacations in Kentucky. He also explained a big difference between the United States, where the party leaders are not as important or powerful, and Germany or other European countries, where party leaders are often the leader of the government as well.

Learning more about the Reichstag’s history and political parties with seats in parliament

After quickly mastering Berlin’s public transportation network and especially the ubiquitous U-Bahn (subway) network, the Americans had a tour of the Reichstag building, a bike tour along a 25-km segment of the Berlin Wall Bike Path, Tempelhof Airport where the Airlift was centered, met NTV journalists Christian Wilp, Nina Lamers and anchor Jan Hofer. They also learned more about public radio in Germany from Deutschlandfunk correspondents Katharina Hamberger and Marcus Pindur — who was duly impressed that the students knew the history of Sudentendeutschland regions of Czechoslovakia that was annexed by Nazi Germany shorted before World War II started.

Andreas Franz of MDR TV in Leipzig shows the Americans his offices and TV studios

In Leizpig student alumni Sarah-Maria Köpf gave the students a walking tour of the center of the historic city, pointing to the square where the famous Montagsdemos took place, before Andreas Franz of MDR TV gave a detailed tour of the MDR studios in Leipzig and Lars Beger gave a fascinating talk at student radio Radio Mephisto — a student-run station that he explained was created and based on American student-operated radio stations. Bastian Wierzioch, a journalist who covers far-right extremists, warned of the perils expecially in eastern German from the far-right.

American students tour Hamburg harbor and Reeperbahn district with guide Brent Foster

Back in Berlin, the students took a boat cruise of the government quarter together with Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason and also visited the Stasi prison in Hohenschönhausen. They also had the chance to spend several hours at the Bernauerstrasse Berlin Wall memorial sight with tour guide Peter Keup. The students spent two days in Hamburg, meeting top journalists at Der Spiegel and at ARD TV such as Helge Fuhst, Damla Hekimoglu and Michail Paweletz as well as US consul general Darion Akins. They also took a walking tour of the famous Reeperbahn red-light district and learned more about the two years that the Beatles spent learning their trade with a punishing performance schedule.

Sawsan Chebli meets with American students to talk about integration and assimilation in Germany

In Berlin the Americans learned more about how young German journalists learn their trade on a visit to the Freetech Academy at the Axel Springer publishing company from Kristin Schulze, head of academic affairs. They also visited WeltTV’s studios and had a talk with editor-in-chief Jan Philipp Burgard as well as fellow alumni Nadine Jantz, Andreas Büttner and Leonie von Randow. The Americans met a group of German alumni for a talk about China from RIAS alumni and RBB radio correspondent in Beijing Benjamin Eyssel.

RTL and NTV correspondent Christian Wilp meets American journalists at RTL offices in Berlin

They also visited the Allied museum, had a talk with leading SPD politician Sawsan Cheblin and had walking tours of the Kreuzberg ethnic neighbor with Greens politician Özcan Mutlu and the Neukoelln neighborhood for Arabic-speaking immigrants with a Syrian refugee Firas Zahri — that ended with diner in the famous Aldimashqi restaurant that was created by Syrian refugees in 2015.

During their third and final week, the students will visit Cologne, the Foreign Ministry and the USA embassy.


June 30, 2022

American journalism students on 3-week fellowship to Germany

A total of 14 American students of journalism and related fields are spending three weeks in Germany to learn more about the role of broadcasting media during the Cold War, in particular the impact that Radio in American Sector (RIAS) had in overcoming the decades-long post-war tensions in Europe.

The student exchange project was created in 2018 with support from 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).
The 14 American journalism students come primarily from universities in the Midwest, South and Southwest. The program started on June 20 and concludes on July 8. It includes trips to meet other RIAS alumni and German journalists in Leipzig, Hamburg, Cologne and Potsdam.

Here is a list of the participating students:page1image62835904

Marlowe Starling, University of Florida

page1image56195504Marlowe Starling is an early career environmental journalist from Miami, Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. In fall 2022, she will begin pursuing her master’s degree at New York University for the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She has reported from the mountains of northern Tanzania for Earth Island Journal and has bylines in Mongabay and the Associated Press. Starling looks forward to taking her reporting abroad as an international reporter.

Jason Stahl, University of Montana

Jason Stahl completes his bachelor’s degree in May 2022 from the University of Montana. His undergraduate studies in history and journalism prepared him to

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seek out narrative voices and prevent historical erasure, which he will continue to explore in graduate school. Stahl was born and lived most of his life in a Hutterite colony before coming to university. He is a lifelong Montanan, voracious reader, forever student, journalist, and food enthusiast. Stahl has a special interest in bringing history alive and preserving cultural knowledge through publicity and pilgrimage.

Sasha Hartzell, University of Arizona

Sasha Hartzell is a graduate student at the University of Arizona studying

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Documentary Media and Human Rights. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Geography, and has interned with multiple news outlets including Arizona Public Media and the Arizona Daily Star. Hartzell currently works as a Client Services Director and Media Specialist for a North Carolina law firm, producing educational pieces on business topics, and as a freelance journalist.

Jessie Christopher Smith, University of Oklahoma

page1image56583936Jessie Christopher Smith is the breaking news and trending reporter at The Oklahoman, his state’s largest daily newspaper, where he has worked since 2021. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism at The University of Oklahoma, with minor concentrations in Religious Studies and English, Literary and Cultural Studies. He previously worked for Gaylord News, OU Daily, and Rap Chronicle.

Oreoluwa Ojewuyi, Southern Illinois University 

Oreluwa Ojewuyi, recently received her Bachelors of Arts in political science and bachelors of science in journalism

page1image56584144 and a French minor. She was the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Egyptian newspaper from 2021-2022. She is currently a grant writer for the non-profit organization Chicago Votes and will be pursuing her master’s degree in public affairs reporting at the University Illinois Springfield in the fall.

Dayana Villanueva, New Mexico State University

Dayana Villanueva is a senior studying economics at New Mexico State University

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after completing a degree in multimedia journalism in 2021. She has worked as a reporter and anchor for Spanish-language student-run newscasts at NMSU. Born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Villanueva has reported on cultural, social justice, protest, and immigration issues. She is also a staff writer and multimedia specialist at The Round Up, an independent online newspaper at NMSU. She aims to become an investigative reporter in broadcasting.

Marien López-Medina, University of Oklahoma

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Marien López-Medina is a rising senior in Journalism at the University of Oklahoma. Originally from Managua, Nicaragua, she left her country in 2017 to earn her international baccalaureate diploma at Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific in Victoria, B.C., Canada and arrived at OU in fall of 2019. She worked as a news reporter, assistant news editor and summer news managing editor at The OU Daily, where she discovered her focus in journalism: conflict zones, immigration, minority groups, diversity and human rights. López-Medina wants to pursue a career in investigative journalism in the United States, Latin America or Europe.

Jenna Calderon, Miami University, Ohio

Jenna Calderón is a recent graduate from Miami University in Ohio, with degrees

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in journalism, Spanish, and global & intercultural studies. She has bylines in Men’s Health magazine, Cincinnati magazine, Dayton Business Journal and more. Calderón is particularly interested in rural communities in Central and South America and hopes to spend some time teaching English in these areas before starting a full-time career in journalism

Noah Mack, University of Oklahoma

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Noah Mack is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma studying journalism and political science. Noah produces his college’s student-led newscast, OU Nightly. He was associate producer of a show that won best video newscast from the Oklahoma Broadcast Education Association. Mack is interning with an HBO documentary looking back at 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He enjoys reporting and producing, and is interested in politics, history and international affairs.

Madison Karas, Temple University, Philadelphia

Madison Karas is a journalist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She recently

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graduated summa cum laude from Temple University’s journalism and economics undergraduate programs. Madison has interned for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and is currently a fellow at Resolve Philly and an editorial fellow at News Catalyst, where she supports the Tiny News Collective. Madison is interested in working at the intersection of editorial, engagement and product in newsrooms.

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Mikaela DeLeon, University of Oklahoma

Mikaela DeLeon is a junior journalism student at the University of Oklahoma. She holds minors in political science and history and reported for the OU Daily. DeLeon has worked as a DC Correspondent with Gaylord News and is interested in media law and international relations.

Evette Giron, University of Central Oklahoma

Evette Giron is a recent graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma where

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she studied education and photojournalism. Most recently she’s been teaching English to newly arrived Afghan refugees in Oklahoma City. Giron is looking forward to using her photography skills to report on the refugee crisis in Europe.

Brandon Leis, University of Wisconsin – Madison

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Brandon Leis is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelors in English and Communication Arts. A Wisconsin native, he aims to learn more about journalism in Germany and foreign news coverage. Leis has ambitions to work in Germany.

Carlee Pascual, University of Oklahoma

Carlee Pascual is a rising senior Public Relations major at the University of

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Oklahoma. She is minoring in History and Political Science and plans to attend law school after graduating. She has a huge passion for learning about the Cold War and her favorite US President is John F. Kennedy. Pascual is excited to travel to Europe for the first time.


June 23, 2022

American journalists offer personal insight into their “RIAS experience”
It was an honor and a privledge for the RIAS Berlin Kommission to recently welcome ten amazing American journalists to our 2-week program for professionals. This is what they have to say about their personal “RIAS experience”.

Sheryl Worsley, VP of Podcasting, KSL, Salt Lake City 
I am amazed at how much I learned on the RIAS Berlin journalism exchange to Brussels and German cities of Cologne and Berlin. We were given incredible access to wonderful people inside NATO and the European Commission where we learned about the way this part of the globe interacts with member partners and those countries nearby. The geo-politics were fascinating. Although exhausted from a whirlwind of activity (this schedule is action packed!), I found all the discussions compelling and valuable. It was wonderful to learn from and about journalists in Germany and I made contacts I hope to keep. Most interesting were the visits with a Syrian refugee who escaped the war in Aleppo, the Ukrainian journalist who fled the war in her homeland waged by Russia and the Turkish politician who still fights for the rights of minority populations in Berlin. I have a better understanding and appreciation for the people, culture and history of Germany. Most of all, I am grateful for the people with whom I travelled. Erik was an incredible leader, an excellent teacher and expanded my understanding. Lastly, the connections I made with the nine journalists in our group I would not trade. We will be friends for life. I highly recommend this program.

Omar Atia, WNBC New York, NY
Eye-opening, life changing, unforgettable. Insert all of your travel clichés and they all ring true of RIAS Berlin. Russia’s war in Ukraine dominated our discussions throughout two whirlwind weeks in Brussels and Berlin.
Each day was packed with a who’s-who of politicians, journalists, deal makers and diplomats. Our level of access was second to none. We had candid discussions with top officials from NATO and the EU. Their message was optimistic: Europe was more united than ever, thanks to Putin’s war. We heard heart-breaking stories directly from the people impacted most: a group of Ukrainian mothers and their children, who recently arrived to Germany. They wanted their stories to be heard and told, afraid their plight might blur into background noise.
We saw the success story of a Syrian refugee, a narrative that is largely left untold. Seven years ago, he risked his life swimming across the Mediterranean to escape war. Today, he is an IT manager who has built a new life for his family in Berlin. Through it all, I was constantly impressed by how committed Germany is to publicly funding news outlets. A business model that prioritized people – not profit – and substance – not flash. We learned in real terms why a well-informed public is a key ingredient to a healthy Democracy. Maybe that’s something the U.S. can learn from Germany.

Esther Ciammachilli, WAMU, Washington, D.C.
Journalists often say that we got into this business because we like to talk to people and learn about new cultures. The RIAS Berlin program and the people I have met on this whirlwind journey encompass all the reasons why I chose journalism as a career.
The Squad: I do not think I could have asked for a better group of people to run all over Belgium and Germany with at times like the Amazing Race. We all brought a different strength and perspective to the group dynamic – Omar the navigator, Katherine the archaeologist – to name a couple. All of you left an imprint on my soul. Friends. For. Life. Without the RIAS program I never would have met so many amazing new German friends and colleagues, all of whom showed me the true meaning of warm hospitality, humanity, empathy, and international cooperation.
Last but certainly not least is the unprecedented access to institutions and officials most journalists would never have access to. Each new day brought a new extraordinary opportunity that was more meaningful than the day before. Visiting NATO (no photos!) and the EU were surreal for me. I’m still processing.
My favourite part of the trip was Cologne and talking to journalists Jörg Schönenborn, Charlotte Maihoff, and Karolina Ashion – some very big deals in Germany. They graciously set aside time in their busy days to talk with us about how Germans view the current political climate in the United States (Shönenborn), their harrowing reporting experiences as a Black woman in Russia (Maihoff), and how they maintain composure and self-care while also reporting on the atrocities in their home country of Ukraine, which they fled at the beginning of the war (Ashion). This day was really a gift to me.
The RIAS experience is invaluable. I came back to Washington D.C. a proud ambassador of the program and I will be thrilled to share my experience with other journalists and encourage them to apply.
I want to send a very special thank you to Erik Kirschbaum for leading us on this amazing trip and connecting us with so many important Europeans. And also for forcing us to mingle with RIAS alumni in Germany. Seriously, the best forced interaction I have ever experienced. Also thank you to Melissa and Christina for herding ALL the cats on this trip and every other. You two are magicians!

Matthew Gregory, WUSA9, Washington, D.C.
After two years of false starts and several waves of COVID, the RIAS 2022 June Fellowship was worth the wait. We found ourselves thrown into the middle of a historic time as European allies grappled with the war in Ukraine. The situation had turned politics on its head. The halls of NATO and EU buzzed with activity and old alliances began to wake to face the Russian threat in the East. A large number of German politicians-Greens in particular-called for a military build up, the likes of which Germany hasn’t seen in its post-World War II existence. While German leadership waffled on how to handle the defense of Europe. There we were, in the middle of it all. I don’t know if past RIAS groups got to experience the level of access and activity we did. While it felt unprecedented, it also matched an unprecedented time. The ‘background briefings’ at NATO and the EU gave insight into which direction the old alliances are moving in order to deal with Russian aggression. RIAS peppered in talks with journalists who cover these institutions to give color to the information we were given.
In Germany we saw how our European counterparts have approached this new paradigm of ‘Europe At War.’ In all RIAS Fellowships there is the interesting novelty in how German journalists do their jobs, but this was something different. We were watching them do their work as the ground shifted beneath them. Journalists from the public and private newsrooms talked about the rising challenges of covering Germany, as politicians try to find some even-ground for the war in Europe. At the same time, it was obvious the country and its journalists are still working towards a true ‘German identity.’
Around 30 years after unification, the country is still forging the new Germany. Questions of ethnicity, race, and representation continue to hum in the background. We sat down with activists and politicians who were born and raised in Germany, but still felt that a section of Germany does not accept them because of how they look. Their stories of overcoming adversity and optics were inspiring, but also disheartening. Germany, in a similar fashion to the United States, has a long way to go to forge an identity that includes all of its citizens. When I look back at RIAS June 2022, I can’t help but think we caught lightning in a bottle. We attended during a pivotal time in European and German history. We sat down with some of the most intelligent and cerebral journalists covering the new Europe. We spoke to refugees who have made their home in Germany. We did it as a highly functioning team. The group selected by the RIAS board worked like a newsroom. We leaned on each other for help and pushed each other for success. We hit our deadlines for every event-usually we showed up 5-10 minutes early.
However, unlike most newsrooms, we all got along. Each one of us fit something the group needed to succeed. The last day felt-to all of us- like the last day of camp. We came in as strangers, but we left a mark on each other. We marched across Brussels, Cologne, and Berlin in a small herd. All the while led by Erik Kirschbaum as he peppered in stories and context to the sites and stories we saw. I am terrible at networking, but I look forward to staying in touch with my RIAS 2022 Fellows because we worked on something monumental together.

Kevin King, Dakota News Now, Sioux Falls, SD
What an amazing two weeks! I don’t know if there is a better way for American journalists to learn more about the historic relationship between Germany and the United States. As a journalist, the program opened my eyes to German and European politics. The access we received during our program was amazing. From visits with high level officials at the European Union, NATO and the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, tours of some of the biggest media organizations in Germany, to meeting local journalists, this was trip unlike any other. I’m looking forward to going back to my newsroom and sharing what I’ve learned. Anyone who is able should apply for this amazing fellowship. It will not disappoint.

Pam Ortega, Freelance Radio/TV Journalist, Oklahoma City, OK
Back in 2018, RIAS was my introduction to Europe and Germany. Four years later, the program exceeded my expectations. I spent two weeks with 9 of the most dynamic, intelligent and versatile journalists in the industry, that I now call friends. As an immigration journalist and researcher, my favorite part of the program was the incorporation of refugees and migration issues, including the tour of Syrian and Turkish neighborhoods, and talks by politicians of migrant backgrounds. From visiting the EU, to speaking with various politicians to knocking it out of the ballpark at karaoke, these 9 are truly the best the industry has to offer and I’m grateful for them and the work they do to uphold journalistic values.

Brandon Benavides, NBC4, Washington, D.C.
My first trip to Europe was more amazing than I imagined. I learned first hand information from officials at NATO Headquarters and the European Union in Brussels. That knowledge will help shape my future stories. From visiting the German Parliament to tv studios in Cologne and Berlin, I saw how journalists covered the news and used their resources. I recommend the RIAS Berlin Commission to anyone looking to expand their worldview. There is more in this world, than your hometown.

Katherine Bennett, CNN International, Atlanta, GA
I am thankful I was able to participate in the RIAS Berlin Commission transatlantic exchange program in June 2022. Our group’s visit to the European Union headquarters and NATO was my favorite experience during the program. I also enjoyed spending time meeting so many incredible and accomplished people along this journey, including my fellow American journalists, who became my friends. I would recommend RIAS to any journalist seeking a rigorous (and fun) professional development experience.

 

Scott Neuman, NPR, Washington, D.C.
It would be difficult to imagine a better journalistic introduction to German and European politics and foreign policy than the RIAS Berlin program. As a group, we enjoyed unique access to high-level diplomats and politicians. Highlights included briefings at the headquarters of NATO and the European Union in Brussels that came at a pivotal time in history. Having the opportunity to discuss these momentous events with fellow journalists was equally valuable. RIAS was an incredible and unforgettable experience!

 

Andrea Gutierrez, NPR, Los Angeles, CA
Since studying in Germany in college, I have been looking forward to returning in a professional capacity. RIAS gave me the chance to learn and grow as a journalist not only through meetings with government and agency officials, but also with journalists in Belgium and Germany, as well as within our mighty crew of US-based journalists. I am glad to join the ranks of RIAS alums in the US and Germany.

 

And a few words from our Executive Director about this particular program:

Despite the newfound challenges of trying to schedule meetings with NATO, EU and German newsmakers and policymakers short after a war in Europe broke out and the Covid-19 pandemic continues to mess up the best of plans, the first RIAS Berlin Commission exchange program for professional American broadcast journalists to Europe since 2019 turned out to be a tremendous success. All of a sudden, just shortly before the program began, the skies opened up and guest speakers began lining up to talk to our talented collection of senior American broadcast journalists from across the United States – Utah, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Georgia, New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles. It was one of the most ambitious RIAS programs in Germany in many years with nearly 40 appointments in 12 days but also one of the most enlightening ever.
-Erik Kirschbaum, Executive Director RIAS Berlin Commission, Berlin


June 18, 2022

American journalists visit Brussels, Cologne & Berlin on fellowship

Ten American broadcast journalists from Atlanta to Salt Lake City and from Oklahoma City to New York City spent two weeks on a whirlwind RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship, learning a lot about Germany, NATO and the European Union at a time of crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Americans were able to talk to senior policymakers, leading journalists, activists, refugees, immigrants and political experts in all three cities during the first standard RIAS exchange program to Europe since before the pandemic in 2019.

The fast-paced and exhaustive program began in Brussels on June 6 with  meetings with such luminaries as journalist Teri Schultz (NPR, Deutsche Welle), senior NATO policymakers from the United States, the UK, Slovakia, and Croatia who talked about the crisis in Ukraine as well as the bids to join NATO from Finland and Sweden. They also met European Commission figures such as Haydn Schofield, Frederic d’Hondt, Stefan de Keersmaecher, and Peter Stango, the foreign affairs policy spokesman on EU support for Ukraine.

In Cologne the Americans were treated to a riveting talk with WDR program director and leading journalist Jörg Schönenborn, RTL anchor Charlotte Maihoff and a Ukranian journalist, Karolina Ashion, who is now doing a daily news broadcast in Ukrainian on the NTV network’s social media channels. The Americans also met about 20 members of the Cologne alumni chapter at the Brauhaus Deutz before taking an early-morning train to Berlin — where they met a leading member of the SPD, Sawsan Chebli, and Politico’s Chief European Correspondent Matt Karnitschnig. They also met with about a dozen members of the Berlin alumni chapter.

After an illuminating Saturday morning stroll together with Syrian refugee Firas Zahkri of the Neukoelln neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly population by immigrants and the famous Sonnenallee avenue that is better known locally as Arabic Avenue and lunch at a famous Syrian restaurant, Aldimashqi, the Americans had an eye-opening visit to the Stasi prison in Hohenschönhausen where political prisoners were held in Communist East Germany.

ZDF anchor Mitri Sirin and RBB reporter Petra Gute enlightened the group about the differences between TV and radio journalism in Germany compared to the United States while political consultant Julius van de Laar, Rob Schmitz, the NPR correspondent in Berlin, and musician Andrej Hermlin were able to expand the horizons of the journalists with talks about life in Germany during a series of food-filled meetings at the famous Cafe Einstein. The Americans were able to visit the US Embassy in Berlin in the afternoon along with the Holocaust memorial before listening to a speech from Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht, who tried to defend Germany’s assistance to Ukraine despite criticism from Ukraine and the German media that it should be doing more.

The Americans got a lively tour of the Reichstag parliament building, its spectacular glass rooftop dome and its fascinating history — complete with Russian profanities scribbled on walls inside the parliament building by invading Soviet troops at the end of World War Two. They also had the chance to talk with Deutsche Welle’s director general Peter Limbourg and news director Max Hoffmann at DW headquarters in Wedding.

The Americans also enjoyed a spectacular evening with the famed German radio and TV personality Joerg Thadeusz and Anna Engelke, a journalist who has spent the last several years working as the spokeswoman for President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before returning to journalism this year.

After hearing so much about the opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD), an extreme right-wing party in Germany that all other parties have shunned, the Americans met with a senior member of the AfD in parliament — Beatrix von Storch. That was followed by a meeting with Tagesspiegel newspaper journalist Elisabeth Binder at the famous Berlin newspaper offices and a meeting at the Federal Press Office with deputy government spokesman, Wolfgang Büchner — the former editor of Der Spiegel news magazine.

The creator of the famous East Side Gallery open-air art exhibit on the East Side of the Berlin Wall, Kani Alavi, explained how the 1.3-km long project happened in early 1990 and how he has successfully fended off developers who would rather tear down one of the last remnants of the Berlin Wall to build apartments.

Deutschlandfunk correspondents Katharina Hamberger and Markus Pindur were able to shed light on their work at Germany’s most influential news radio station from the offices of the Bundespressekonferenz – a uniquely German room for news conferences where spokesmen and spokeswomen from all the ministries are invited to answer questions from the assembled capital press corps three times each week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The journalists also visited WeltTV, where editor-in-chief Jan Philipp Burgard talked about the all-news station and his time as a correspondent in the USA for the ARD network while joined by RIAS alumni Lena Mosel and Leonie von Randow.

Özcan Mutlu, a leading figure in the Greens party and leading voice in Germany’s increasingly influential Turkish community, gave the Americans a tour of the ethnic neighborhoods in Kreuzberg just south and west of where the Berlin Wall stood during the Cold War that have in the meantime turned in the new and vibrant heart of Berlin.

In Berlin, journalist Anna Noryskiewicz talked about her work as a journalist for CBS News before the Americans had the chance to savor an eye-opening and at-times emotional lunch with a group of 20 Ukrainian women and their children. 


June 6, 2022

RIAS Germany Standard Program starts in Brussels – June 6 -17, 2022

American RIAS fellows fresh off the airplane listen to Teri Schultz talking about NATO and life as a freelancer for NPR and Deutsche Welle in Brussels

Ten American broadcast journalists arrived in Brussels on Monday for the start of a two-week RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship in Belgium and Germany. The radio and TV journalists from Oklahoma, South Dakota, Georgia, Utah, California, New York and Washington DC will be learning more about NATO and the European Union in meetings with NATO officials, defense policy experts and the EU until taking a two-hour train ride to Cologne on Thursday for meetings with senior German broadcasting journalists at WDR TV, RTL TV and NTV all-news network before meeting with the Cologne alumni chapter on Thursday evening.

After that they will take a four-hour train ride across the country to Berlin early on Friday for a full week’s worth of meetings with political leaders, leading German and American journalists in Berlin, think tanks, political scientists, Turkish community leaders, refugees from Syria and Ukraine who have settled in Berlin, take a tour of the Reichstag parliament building and US embassy officials.

Teri Schultz

In Brussels, they got an introduction to NATO and life as a freelance foreign correspondent for NPR and Deutsche Welle from Teri Schultz, a RIAS alumni originally from New Mexico.

Schultz took part in a RIAS program in the late 1990s from New Mexico State University and ended up working in Finland for CNN. She later moved to Brussels and has carved out a niche as one of the most authoritative journalists covering NATO for Deutsche Welle and NPR.

The American journalists on the two-week RIAS Berlin Commission fellowship are:

 

Sheryl Worsley, News Director, KSL, Salt Lake City is Vice President ofpage1image27691456

Podcasting at Bonneville and KSL Podcasts in Salt Lake City, Utah. Worsley spent ”20 years in radio as a news director before concentrating full-time on podcasts. She manages the production of 25 original podcasts, including the investigative true crime hit COLD. Worsley serves on the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) board of directors.

Omar Atia, WNBC New York, NY is is the 5 p.m. producer for WNBC-TV in

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New York City. A native New Yorker who still resides in Brooklyn, he started his career at NY1, a local TV news outlet in NYC, and has earned several prestigious honors, including a 2017 NY Press Club award and the 2021 duPont-Columbia University award for WNBC’s COVID-19 pandemic coverage.

Esther Ciammachilli, WAMU, Washington, D.C. is the local host of Morning

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Edition on WAMU 88.5. Ciammachilli presents local news updates from the WAMU and D.C. news team, along with feature stories and conversations with newsmakers from around the Washington, D.C. region. She is a fan of sports and has won several regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her coverage of sports-related stories.

Kevin King, Dakota News Now, Sioux Falls, SD is the News Director at Dakota News Now (KSFY/KDLT) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Before moving to

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South Dakota, he was a newscast producer at KWCH in Wichita, Kansas, KSDK in St. Louis, and KTVT in Dallas/Fort Worth. He is a past president of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association. He currently serves as a regional vice president for the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Brandon Benavides, NBC4, Washington, D.C. works as a content producer at NBC4 in Washington, D.C. He has field produced Emmy Award-winning broadcasts and teaches journalism at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland. His interest in supporting diversity in media led him to serve as

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president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (2016-2018), and he is on the board ofSAG-AFTRA Washington – Mid-Atlantic Local. He graduated from American University with a Master of Arts in Communication: Journalism and   Affairs, and earned his Bachelor of Arts from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

Matthew Gregory, WUSA9, Washington, D.C. is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter for WUSA9-the CBS affiliate. His career began as a sports producer in Baltimore for Wpage1image27692496BAL. His news-reporting career began at WTHI-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana, and then moved back across the country to report at WAVY-TV in Norfolk, Virginia. He has a special interest in crime & justice reporting, as well as tech and finance. He runs his own finance podcast called “Funance.

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Andrea Gutierrez, NPR, Los Angeles, CA is a radio producer in Los Angeles and on the NPR podcast “It’s Been a Minute“. She has also worked on “Planet Money”. Her work has also appeared on “Code Switch”, “Alt.Latino”, “All Things Considered” and “Up First”. Her work has received awards and honors from the Podcast Academy, LA Press Club, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Gutierrez has a bachelor’s degree in German at Scripps College and MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of California, Riverside.

Scott Neuman, NPR, Washington, D.C. is a writer and editor for NPR, based in Washington, D.C. He focuses mainly on digital platforms, writing breaking

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news and features. Previously, he worked as a Hong Kong-based editor and correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and as an editor at the Asia Desk of the Associated Press in Bangkok. He also worked in South Asia for United Press International.

Katherine Bennett, CNN International, Atlanta, GA is a news writer for CNN International and is based in Atlanta. She has worked for CNN since 2000

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with career highlights there including an Emmy Award for 9/11 coverage, duPont-Columbia University Award for news coverage of Tsunami Disaster in South Asia, Peabody Award for news coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. She shares all of these awards with the CNN Newsgroup.

Pam Ortega, Freelance Radio/TV Journalist, Oklahoma City, OK is a freelance journalist in Oklahoma City and a researcher for the Center for

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Comparative Immigration Studies with UC-San Diego. She holds a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from UC-San Diego and bachelor’s degrees in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked with CNN, POLITICO, Bloomberg and ProPublica. Ortega has a special interest in immigration and spent time researching asylum in Southern California and in rural Georgia.


June 6, 2022

Good time had by all at annual RIAS Berlin Commission alumni party 

A good time was had by all — that was once again the motto at the annual RIAS Berlin Commission party for alumni on June 3, 2022 at the Pusteblume beer garden and restaurant across the street from the famous RIAS building in Berlin’s Schoeneberg quarter.
About 65 #RIASBerlin alumni and applicants for future program gathered first for  for an illuminating panel discussion with RIAS media prize winners Clare Toeniskoetter, Jan Philipp Burgard and Ingo Zamperoni about their prizewinning stories. The American and German journalists offered candid observations about their work and about the differences between journalism practices in the United States and Germany as well as the differences between the commercial networks in Germany and the powerful public broadcast stations.
Also joining the meeting in the courtyard of the RIAS building was a group of 10 American college students from the University of Miami-Ohio taking part in a summer exchange program in Europe under the guidance of RIAS alumni Rosemary Pennington.
After the hour-long panel discussion, the group migrated across the street from the historic RIAS building that is now the home of Deutschlandradio to the venerable Pusteblume restaurant/beer Garten for another rousing alumni reunion that didn’t want to end. A good time was had by all.

June 6, 2022

Impressions from the RIAS Media Prize Awards ceremony 


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June 5, 2022

Claudia Roth speech at the RIAS Media Prize Awards ceremony 

Germany’s Culture Minister Claudia Roth, who is the honorary co-chairwoman of the RIAS Berlin Commission along with Ambassador Amy Gutmann of the United States, gave a riveting speech on June 2 at the RIAS Media Prize Awards Ceremony. Roth, a member of parliament in the Greens party, paid tribute to the history of the RIAS radio and TV (Radio in American Sector) — as well as the American-style swing dance band playing, the Swingin’ Hermlins.  The RIAS Berlin Commission was created 30 years ago by the German and United States’ governments as a non-profit binational organization to keep alive the spirit of the Cold War-era broadcasting company. RIAS went off the air after the peaceful conclusion of the East-West confrontation during the Cold War and some

historians said RIAS played a role in helping to overcome those divisions.

“I am glad to be here tonight, even if only as a fleeting guest. But I certainly did not want to miss the moment to congratulate the award winners, to thank you for your work, which is so important for democracy, and to introduce myself to the Commission, of which I am now the honorary chair – together with you, dear Amy, which I am particularly looking forward to.

If something has grown, it is because it has taken root. This is also true for institutions from time to time. They grow together with the task and the people for whom they were made. They become indispensable. RIAS, the radio station in the American sector, was such an institution, more than a medium in the Cold War and more than a radio station. RIAS was, no, RIAS is a Berliner.

For a Berliner whom the Berliners themselves have chosen to be a Berliner is immortal. For that there are – Ernst Reuter, Marlene Dietrich, Willy Brandt, David Bowie – not many, but some role models!

So today we are not only celebrating the winners of the RIAS Media Prize. We are celebrating the idea that has remained: “A free voice of the free world”. This is what the RIAS-Berlin Commission was founded for 30 years ago. It has worked for this in three decades, with exchange programs and fellowships, with encounters, discussions and friendships.

We have reason to celebrate this idea. We should celebrate it, in the great contributions of the laureates! We should celebrate it, because a free voice in a free world is the condition for our democratic culture.

And for this very reason we should defend it where it is threatened – there is also reason to do so. Because thinking about the freedom of the word at all is a challenge at this time. The word itself is free; it gives everyone who uses it the freedom to use it as he pleases. Lying, too, is not subject to any fundamental prohibition.

That is why, I think, it has rarely been more important than today to understand how propaganda works. I deliberately do not say how it “functions,” because it works in very different ways, it is nimble, it works with the means of its time. It is a tactician. And if it works with supposedly clumsy means, that doesn’t mean that the technique it uses is also clumsy.

In our post-postmodern world, which is so confusing and complex, in which for so long one crisis follows another, one catastrophe follows another, it is not a matter of putting a lie into the world and then reproducing it again and again.
The propaganda we are confronted with today works with countless half-truths, with different versions of one and the same story. And this cacophony has only one goal: to make us believe that we cannot know anything, that no source can be trusted. We are supposed to distrust each other.

That’s why the work of journalists, is your work so important, indeed so absolutely indispensable. It is you who inquire, who question, who use your knowledge and experience to tell us what is happening and to classify what is difficult to understand.

Journalists are fallible too, yes. But to declare them lemmings in the mainstream follows exactly the intention I just described. The intention of fomenting distrust. Because without trustworthy reporting and commentary, we remain disoriented in a globalized world with so many crises. Without trust, there can be no democracy.

RIAS was also distrusted. I quote: “But you were an American-funded program. Was there freedom of speech?” Egon Bahr, editor-in-chief of RIAS in 1953, was asked by Deutschlandfunk Kultur in 2006. Or was the “free” word dictated to the station in the end?

Bahr replied that his colleagues at German stations envied him. I quote, “You can say whatever you want at RIAS; we have to be considerate of our supervisory bodies.” The only restriction, Bahr said, was that “we were not allowed to say that the American president is an idiot.”

In the time of its existence, RIAS had no occasion to do so.

We hear lies and half-truths in many languages, Russian, Chinese, even German and American English. But the idiom is the same: an inhuman and democracy-despising “Putinesisch” and “Trumpistisch”!

We have the duty to defend free voices for a free world.

And we want to do it. We want to do it directly and unbureaucratically by facilitating the entry and stay in Germany of persecuted and fled journalists, cultural workers and scientists from Russia and Belarus together and in coordination with the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of the Interior. It is these voices that we hope for. And it is these free voices that we can hope for.

And we want to do that. We want to do it directly and unbureaucratically by making it easier for persecuted and fugitive journalists, cultural workers and scientists from Russia and Belarus to enter and stay in Germany, together and in coordination with the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of the Interior. It is these voices that we hope for. And it is these free voices that we can hope for.

That’s why I want to put this topic on the agenda of the G7 Conference of Media Ministers in Bonn. We have to agree on it, because the propaganda war, like the real, cruel and brutal war against Ukraine, threatens democracies as forms of state and society – not only where there is already shooting. It threatens the free world.

In conclusion, I want to pick out just one of the many historical moments that RIAS not only reported on, but in which it itself made history. And I want to use it to remind ourselves of our duty not to abandon people who are being forced to give up their freedom and independence.

We ourselves, this city, were once in such a situation. The fate of 2.2 million Berliners depended on the help of the Americans, on their willingness not to give up the free part of Berlin. RIAS broadcast from the beginning of the blockade until its end, to which it contributed.

Today we have the duty to stand by the people of Ukraine.

Thank you all very much!


June 3, 2022

Successful restart for RIAS Media Prize Awards ceremony in Berlin

After a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the RIAS Media Prize Awards ceremony returned to the big stage in Berlin on Thursday with 17 prize winners from 2020, 2021 and 2022 being honored at a gala celebration moderated by Petra Gute in central Berlin. Below is a collection of pictures from the ceremony with keynote speakers Ambassador Amy Gutmann and Culture Minister Claudia Roth along with journalists and friends of RIAS who attended the anniversary event at the Französicher Dom in the heart of Berlin.


June 3, 2022

Gutmann, Roth pay tribute to RIAS at Media Prize ceremony 

USA Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann, RIAS Berlin Commission honorary co-chairwoman

American Ambassador Amy Gutmann and German Culture Minister Claudia Roth paid tribute to the history of the RIAS (Radio in American Sector) radio and tv broadcast network based in West Berlin as a beacon of democracy and the “voice of the free world” that millions of Germans in Communist East Germany and West Berlin listened to during the Cold War-era — in speeches at a gala RIAS Media Commission awards ceremony moderated by Petra Gute in Berlin on Thursday evening in front of an audience of 200.

The two honorary chairwomen of the German-American RIAS Berlin Commission, which was founded 30 years ago to keep alive the spirit of the famous radio and TV station, both drew parallels between the war in Ukraine and its suppression of free speech and a free press to the decades-long work of RIAS in helping to overcome the Cold War divisions of Europe from the late 1940s through the end of the era with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 — which precipitated the reunification of Germany less than a year later and the winding down of RIAS in 1993.

Culture Minister Claudia Roth, RIAS Berlin Commission honorary co-chairwoman

“As history shows, even in the most closed-down societies, ultimately one of the most difficult things for a tyrant to suppress is freedom of speech and the truth — it will get out,” Gutmann said in her address to the gathering of journalists, award-winners, board members and other dignitaries at the in the Französicher Dom in central Berlin.

“That the truth will get out  is documented by the story of RIAS. Throughout the Cold War, RIAS was a thorn in the side of the government of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) and of the Soviet Union. Why? Because it was a source of honest news. It was also a source of great jazz, as you heard today, and great popular music. And some people tuned in for the music but they also heard the honest news. Millions of listeners in the east and west tuned in, yes for jazz and rock ‘n roll and entertainment and that also is important, but also for the truth. There was a crack in the wall. The journalists at RIAS helped to make history. They were always there, reporting live for all to hear. Let me tell you that is not only history, but that certainly is part of my personal history. Were it not for RIAS, were it not for the cracks in the wall, I would not be here to be standing here today.

Gutmann, whose father fled from his German hometown of Feuchtwangen at the the start of the Nazi-era as a 17-year-old 85 years ago, also paid tribute to the 17 RIAS Berlin Commission prize winners, who were selected by an independent German-American jury from competitions in 2020, 2021 and 2022.  The gala ceremony had been postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gutmann also said she was pleased to tell her German counterpart as honorary chairwoman of RIAS Berlin Commission, Claudia Roth, that the United States is doing all it can to restore and improve relations with Germany. She said it was important for the two countries to remain close allies. Gutmann also returned to the theme of journalism, saying a free press and free speech were vital for democracy. She called journalists “champions of democracy” who should never lose sight that responsible journalism help to build civilian and free societies.

“It is a great honor for me to be here…and so it is a great honor to join Claudia and be part of this wonderful profession, reporting on issues that matter for people on both sides of the Atlantic, and to say to you all, as President Biden has said: America is back. We are back with our German allies. And we are really honored and proud and I am personally honored ad proud to be here so thank you for that.”

June 2, 2022

Media Prize ceremony features on “Abendschau” local news broadcast

The 2022 RIAS Media Prize awards ceremony on June 2 was featured in the RBB Abendschau news program on Thursday evening. Brief excerpts of keynote speeches from Ambassador Amy Gutmann of the United States and State Secretary Claudia Roth of the German government were included in the 35-second news segment of Berlin’s leading news show on Thursday evening that was aired before the ceremony even finished.

You can see the news clip on this website. The story on the RIAS awards ceremony moderated by Petra Gute begins at the 29-second mark and runs to the 1:05-minute mark., https://www.rbb-online.de/abendschau/videos/20220602_1930/nachrichten_zwei.html

RIAS Berlin Commission celebrated its 30-year-anniversary with the first media prize awards ceremony since 2019 on Thursday. Both Gutmann and Roth are honorary chairwomen of the RIAS Berlin Commission, a German-American exchange program for broadcast journalists created 30 years ago with the goal of keeping alive the spirit of the RIAS Radio and TV broadcaster after they went off the air following the end of the Cold War.

The Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel published a story last week about the 30th anniversary of the RIAS Berlin Commission as well — noting that RIAS Berlin Commission was one of several institutions created in Berlin in the early 1990s after the end of the Cold War amid hopes in the once-divided German capital of cementing an American presence even after some 10,000 Allied troops who defended West Berlin’s freedom during the Cold War departed in 1992.

Here is a link to the story in Der Tagesspiegel: https://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/30-jaehriges-bestehen-der-rias-medienpreisverleihung-journalisten-in-berlin-fuer-beitrag-zur-deutsch-amerikanischen-verstaendigung-geehrt/28377662.html

 


June 1, 2022

Gutmann, Roth to speak at RIAS Media Prize awards ceremony

Ambassador Amy Gutmann of the United States and State Secretary Claudia Roth of the German government will be the featured speakers at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Berlin RIAS Commission moderated by Petra Gute on Thursday evening in Berlin. Both are honorary chairwomen of the RIAS Berlin Commission, a German-American exchange program for broadcast journalists created 30 years ago with the goal of keeping alive the spirit of the RIAS Radio and TV broadcaster after they went off the air following the end of the Cold War.

Französicher Dom cathedral

The RIAS Media Prizes are awarded each year for outstanding broadcast stories aired in the United States or Germany that touch on transatlantic issues. The ceremony was last held in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic but juries continued to pick winners in 2020, 2021 and 2022 — all of whom will be honored on Thursday evening at a ceremony at the Französischer Dom in central Berlin. All of the winning entries from those three years have been reposted here on the www.riasberlin.org website.

About 180 guests are expected for the ceremony that will also pay tribute to 30 years of RIAS Berlin Commission exchange programs. Nearly 1,800 journalists have taken part in the one- to three-week long fellowship in each other’s countries — 900 Americans and 900 Germans. Many of the top broadcast journalists in both Germany and the United States have taken part in RIAS fellowships or have won the RIAS Media Prize — including Bill Whitaker, Claus Kleber, Peter Kloeppel, Tom Buhrow, Ingo Zamperoni and Jan-Phillipp Burgard.

The first 60 minutes of Thursday’s ceremony will be livestreamed on the Facebook page of the American Swing Dance Band that will be playing music for the first 30 minutes and then throughout the evening. Please see Andrej Hermlin’s Facebook page starting at 6 pm CET (1200 EST) to follow the introductory music and speeches from Amy Gutmann and Claudia Roth.

Französicher Dom cathedral

For more information about the RIAS Berlin Commission or the fellowship, please write info@riasberlin.org


 

June 1, 2022

Faltin wins RIAS TV prize for story on GIs in post-war West Germany 

Sigrid Faltin won the RIAS Media Prize Best TV award in 2022 for her report on the history of the lives of African American soldiers stationed in West Germany in the early decades after World War II who were living alongside and with West Germans called “Ein Hauch von Amerika – die Doku“ or “A Touch of America — the documentary film”. It was a documentary film that was broadcast at the end of a fictionalized four part-series about a small West Germany town near a major US military base after the war and during the early years of the Cold War. It aired on December 21, 2021. The documentary explored the racism that American GIs sometimes experienced in the small West German towns.

This is what the jury had to say about her story: Just when it seemed that just about everything was already known about the post-war history of American GIs in West Germany, Sigrid Faltin and her colleagues have delivered a stirring, fascinating and at times even disturbing look into little-known aspects about life in small West German towns after the United States armed forces arrived — first as occupation forces and then as allies during the Cold War. The documentary uses archival footage and interviews with women who fell in love with and had children with American soldiers to explore their special hardships.

Here is a link to her story: https://www.ardmediathek.de/video/ein-hauch-von-amerika/ein-hauch-von-amerika-dokumentation-s01-e07/das-erste/Y3JpZDovL2Rhc2Vyc3RlLmRlL2Vpbi1oYXVjaC12b24tYW1lcmlrYTEvOTdmNjE5MzctZDk1Zi00MzA0LWJlZmEtYzhmNzUzNGJhOTY5

The binational RIAS Berlin Commission jury was made up of five distinguished journalists from the United States and Germany: Co-chair Michael Gargiulo (WNBC TV, New York, USA), Co-chair Anja Heyde (ZDF/MDR, Berlin/Magdeburg, Germany), Helge Fuhst (ARD, Hamburg, Germany), Yami Virgin (Fox 29, San Antonio, Texas, USA), Christian Wilp (NTV/RTL, Berlin, Germany), Melissa Eddy (The New York Times, Berlin, USA)

The RIAS Berlin Commission is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The RIAS Media Prize ceremony will be held for the first time since in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual awards ceremony in 2020 and 2021. An independent jury of journalists continued to pick winners in the television, radio and digital categories for German-American exchange program.


May 31, 2022

Moving Balzer story on NY emerging from pandemic wins Fellow Prize

Vladimir Balzer, a radio journalist at Deutschlandradio and RIAS alumni, won the RIAS Media Prize for best fellow award in 2022 for his story on New York City’s emergence from the difficult times in the Covid-19 pandemic called: “New York is züruck — eine Stadt befreit sich aus der Pandemic” (New York is back – a city liberates itself from the pandemic).

Balzer, who is one of the alumni chapter leaders in Berlin, worked on the story during a RIAS Berlin Commission short-program for alumni in October 2021 with about 30 other alumni from Germany on a special one-week program. It aired on November 8, 2021 on Deutschlandfunk’s prime-time morning news show listened to by millions of Germans every morning.

This is what the jury had to say about his story: In his riveting story about New York City gradually coming back to life after the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vladimir Balzer takes Deutschlandfunk listeners on a heart-warming tour of the city that is so hungry for a return to normalcy in the fall of 2021 just before the United States reopened its gates for visitors from the European Union. Important voices through illuminating interviews with idled Broadway actors, American journalists stuck working only from home, badly ailing 9/11 heroes, and lonely Germans stranded in Manhattan are included in this short-but-sweet journalistic masterpiece put together during a RIAS fellowship program.

https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/usa-lockert-einreisebeschraenkungen-new-york-ist-zurueck-100.html

The RIAS Berlin Commission is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The RIAS Media Prize ceremony will be held for the first time since in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual awards ceremony in 2020 and 2021. An independent jury of journalists continued to pick winners in the television, radio and digital categories for German-American exchange program.


May 31, 2022

Deutschlandfunk story on NY in pandemic times wins Radio Prize

Thomas Reintjes and Matthias Röckl won the RIAS Media Prize for best radio story award in 2022 for their story on New York City’s struggles to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic called: “Fear of Losing New York – Auf der Suche nach einer verschwundenen Stadt“ that was aired on Deutschlandfunk and SWR on March 16, 2021.

Here is what the jury said about their story: After Covid-19 shut down the city that never sleeps, left its normally vibrant Broadway theaters dark, forced the myriad of small shops and its famously rich variety of restaurants into a fight for survival, journalists Thomas Reintjes and Matthias Röckl went out with a recording device to explore and describe New York  in a touching, moving and memorable way. Their story “Fear of Losing New York” is a remarkable piece of radio journalism that uses creative techniques and informal spontaneous discussions to paint a picture of a city that is reeling.

Here is a link to their story: https://www.hoerspielundfeature.de/auf-der-suche-nach-einer-verschwundenen-stadt-fear-of-100.html

The RIAS Berlin Commission is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The RIAS Media Prize ceremony will be held for the first time since in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual awards ceremony in 2020 and 2021. An independent jury of journalists continued to pick winners in the television, radio and digital categories for German-American exchange program.

 


May 30, 2022

The Daily from NYT wins RIAS Prize for series on far right in Germany

Katrin Bennhold, Clare Toeniskoetter and a team of journalists at The Daily, a podcast at The New York Times, won the RIAS Media Prize for best digital award in 2022 for their five-part series “Day X” on far-right infiltration in the German military that was aired between May 28 and June 24, 2021. The jury was impressed with the series and praised The Daily team for the “powerful series” of podcasts that also became the basis for a series of articles in The New York Times. Bennhold was the host, while Toeniskoetter was the senior producer along with her fellow senior producers Lynsea Garrison and Kaitlin Roberts. The series was edited by Larissa Anderson and Mike Benoist.

Here’s what the jury said about the series: Making the most of its cutting-edge style of podcast journalism and its profound investigative prowess, The Daily has put together a powerful series of stories that sheds light on a secretive nationwide network of far-right extremists who were operating under the radar inside Germany’s military and police forces. The series of stories that also served as the basis of newspaper articles in The New York Times is a sterling example of outstanding investigative journalism.  

The RIAS Berlin Commission is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The RIAS Media Prize ceremony will be held for the first time since in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual awards ceremony in 2020 and 2021. An independent jury of journalists continued to pick winners in the television, radio and digital categories for German-American exchange program.

1, Shadow Army?: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/28/podcasts/the-daily/day-x-part-1-shadow-army.html

2, In the Stomach: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/03/podcasts/day-x-franco-a-german-extremism.html

3, Blind Spot 2.0: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/10/podcasts/day-x-germany-neo-nazi-franco-a.html

4, Franco A: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/16/podcasts/franco-a-trial-germany-terrorism.html

5, Defensive Democracy: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/24/podcasts/franco-a-trial-afd-germany.html


May 29, 2022

Deutsche Welle wins RIAS Digital Prize for hard look at US sports

Deutsche Welle’s Janek Speight won the 2021 RIAS Media Prize award for best digital story for his thought-provoking comparison of US professional leagues vs European professional soccer, and puts forward an interesting argument: “Why US sports are more socialist than European football.”

The jury praised Speight: “He has succeeded in creating an unusual, attention-grabbing look at the routines of professional sports on both sides of the Atlantic. A cheeky inversion of clichés, a social media-friendly and brilliant comparison of the incomparable. He discovers almost “socialist” aspects in American sports – with its revenue sharing, salary caps and draft system – and he contrasts those with a rather brutal selfishness of big money in Europe. His YouTube contribution for Deutsche Welle combines tongue-in-cheek levity with serious analysis. A triumphant piece of transatlantic journalism.”

The RIAS Berlin Commission is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The RIAS Media Prize ceremony will be held for the first time since in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual awards ceremony in 2020 and 2021. An independent jury of journalists continued to pick winners in the television, radio and digital categories for German-American exchange program.



May 27, 2022

Burgard wins inaugural RIAS Media “Grand Prize” in 2022

Jan Phillip Burgard, the editor-in-chief of WeltTV and a prolific German author of books about the United States, won the 2022 “Grand Prize” of the RIAS Berlin Commission for his moving story of a German family whose son was killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and their connection with their son’s now-20-year-old son — who never met his father. The story also chronicles the family’s fight to have a memorial in Germany for the numerous German victims of the 9/11 attacks — a tireless effort that ultimately leads to the installation of a piece of the World Trade Center steel being displayed as a memorial for the German victims in the courtyard of the US Embassy in Berlin. Burgard was a Washington, DC correspondent for the ARD news network from 2016 to 2021.

The RIAS Berlin Commission is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The RIAS Media Prize ceremony will be held for the first time since in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual awards ceremony in 2020 and 2021. An independent jury of journalists continued to pick winners in the television, radio and digital categories for German-American exchange program.

 


May 23, 2022

RIAS Media Prize – Michael Groth from Deutschlandradio

In 2021, the RIAS Media Prize Jury honored Michael Groth for his series of outstanding in-depth features on music in the United States for more than 15 years at Deutschlandradio/Deutschlandfunkkultur. His entry in the 2021 competition “Songs of Love and Protest – the return of political songs in the USA” was a splendid long-form story that epitomized Groth’s work spanning more than a decade to inform Germans about trends in American music. Here is his report “Songs of Love and Protest – Wiederkehr des politischen Liedes in den USA“ that aired on October 30: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/die-wiederkehr-des-politischen-liedes-in-den-usa-songs-of.3780.de.html?dram:article_id=486565

The RIAS Media Prize ceremony will be held for the first time since in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual awards ceremony in 2020 and 2021. An independent jury of journalists continued to pick winners in the television, radio and digital categories for German-American exchange program.