Programs for U.S. Broadcast Journalists
Two-Week Germany Program
each year in June and September
Germany Spring Program 2022
June 6-17, 2022
Application Deadline: January 31, 2022
Germany Fall Program 2022
September 5-16, 2022
Application Deadline: January 31, 2022
The RIAS Berlin Commission Journalist Program is an intensive two-week long trip to Germany and Brussels for active, mid-career journalists to take some time out from their day jobs to explore journalism in depth and the outside world. Travel and accommodation costs are covered by the fellowship.
More than 1,900 American and German broadcast journalists have participated in this unique transatlantic exchange since it was inaugurated in 1994 to keep the spirit of the legendary Cold War-era radio and TV station Radio in American Sector (RIAS) alive after it went off the air at the end of 1993. The fellows from the United States and Germany have been building bridges of understanding — professionally and personally — through the RIAS Berlin Commission alumni network ever since. The alumni have created a vibrant network by hosting visiting German journalists at their stations in the U.S., attending alumni meetings, and staying connected through the online Fellow directory and our website.
U.S. broadcast journalists are invited to apply for a two-week exchange program in Germany and become part of a vibrant German-American network of broadcast journalists.
The RIAS Berlin Commission program was established in 1992 and has been funding the exchanges of German and U.S. broadcast journalists since 1993. It was named after the legendary Cold War-era radio station “Radio on the American Sector” (RIAS) that had been the “voice of the free world”, beaming news, information and music into Communist East Germany. The goal of the fellowship is to keep the spirit of RIAS alive and supporting that aim are active and enthusiastic alumni chapters in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, Mainz, New York and Washington DC.
More than 1,900 U.S. and German journalists have since taken part in the exchanges that are designed to expand horizons as well as help American journalists learn more about media and politics in Germany and Europe. The program for U.S. journalists starts in Berlin with visits and meetings across the city, and may move to include stops in former East German cities such as Leipzig, Potsdam or Dresden as well as Prague to see changes that have transpired since unification. The program itinerary always includes a stop in Brussels, home to both NATO and the European Union, where there are programs detailing the roles for each organization. It also includes stops in Cologne or Hamburg.
Program applicants must be full-time radio, TV, or online journalists, either staff or freelancers. German is not required. We ask that applicants have a minimum of five years of continued professional journalism experience prior to applying for the program. The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION also encourages journalism school graduates with prior work experience to consider the program.
The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION exchange is a comprehensive fellowship, providing participants with r/t air travel from their home market to Germany, travel in and across Germany, and hotel accommodations during the program. Breakfasts and some meals are also provided during the program.
- The following materials must be included in your application package:
1. completed application forms
- résumé / CV
- recommendation letter (LOR) from either your supervisor or RIAS alumni
- One essay (see application form page 2)
Please send your completed application forms and the required documents in one PDF or Word file to: email@example.com.
One-Week Germany Program
A RIAS Berlin Commission one-week program for American alumni is offered in Berlin every other year (odd-numbered years) — and in Washington DC every other year (even-numbered years) for German alumni. The first alumni program in 2019 was held during the 30th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the next was held in 2021 to coincide with the next German federal election expected in late September 2021. It was not possible to offer a program in 2020 due to the global pandemic. Many alumni have used these programs to report on the news from Germany for their networks back home. Accommodations, local transport costs and numerous alumni dinner get-togethers are covered by RIAS Berlin Commission.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS-One-Week Germany Program
U.S. broadcast journalists — and especially alumni from previous RIAS programs — are invited to apply for a one-week exchange program in Germany and deepen their involvement in the vibrant German-American network of broadcast journalists as well as learn more about current affairs in Germany and/or report on stories from Germany for their home stations. Program applicants must be either former participants of a RIAS program and/or active members of alumni chapters. Full-time radio, TV, or online journalists, either staff or freelancers are also welcome to apply. German is not required. We ask that applicants have a minimum of five years of continued professional journalism experience prior to applying for the program.
The RIAS Berlin Commission program was established in 1992 and has been funding the exchanges of German and U.S. broadcast journalists since 1993. It was named after the legendary Cold War-era radio station “Radio in the American Sector” (RIAS) that had been the “voice of the free world”, beaming news, information and music into Communist East Germany. The goal of the fellowship is to keep the spirit of RIAS alive and supporting that aim are active and enthusiastic alumni chapters in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, Mainz, New York and Washington DC.
More than 1,900 U.S. and German journalists have since taken part in the exchanges that are designed to expand horizons as well as help American journalists learn more about media and politics in Germany and Europe. The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION exchange is a one-week partial fellowship, providing participants with hotel accommodations and travel inside Germany during the program. Breakfasts and some meals are also provided during the program. Participants of the alumni program are required to pay their own travel costs to and from Germany.
Interested? Please contact your local chapter leader or write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org to apply!
Berlin ERP Student Program
U.S. university students are invited to apply for a three-week intensive study program on
journalism in Germany and the role of broadcast journalism during the Cold War era. Funded largely by a grant from the German government (ERP) and organized by the RIAS Berlin Commission, up to 15 outstanding journalism or international studies. Students will be invited to take part in the three-week program in Germany to learn more about journalism in Germany, the role that broadcasters like the Berlin-based RIAS played during the Cold War and the current political landscape of Germany.
The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany,
funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).
Photo: Thomas Wolf, foto-tw.de
Individual Journalist Program (Discontinued)
The RIAS Berlin Commission would like to encourage former American and German Exchange Program participants to promote and deepen their transatlantic ties through an individual exchange program.
American RIAS Fellows visit a Fellow in Germany, German Fellows in turn a U.S. colleague in the United States. The respective RIAS Fellow visits the host’s Radio or TV station, accompanies reporters on their assignment, takes part in editorial conferences and thus gains in-depth knowledge of the daily journalism routine at the hosting Radio or TV station. The participating visiting journalists should also research and produce stories, which can be aired after their return to their home station.
This one-week individual follow-up program can be sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission with up to 1000 Euros for travel and hotel expenses. Preference is given to applications for mutual individual exchange programs with a U.S. RIAS Fellow visiting a German Fellow for one week, who in turn plans to later visit the U.S. Fellow for one week.
Eligibility and application details
U.S. RIAS Fellows submit their application with name and station of the German RIAS Fellow they would like to visit, including a detailed description of the planned activities during their one-week stay at a German station. Please indicate, if and when there will be a return visit by the German host. The annual number of participants is limited. First come, first serve. Please inquire about availability at the Berlin office of the RIAS Berlin Commission.
Repeat Program for Active RIAS Fellows (Discontinued)
Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions about the Germany Study Program
- The following material should be included in your application package.
- completed application forms (3 Pages > Download (109 KB))
- résumé / CV
- nominating/recommendation letter from your supervisor
- three essays (see application forms ‘Page 2’)
Applications are photocopied for review by the jury. To insure the best print quality, original applications must be mailed to RTNDF, even if you have already faxed them.
Do I have to speak German?
No. There is no language requirement for the program. As with any foreign travel, some knowledge of the local language will help you, especially when you are out by yourself. However, most Germans speak English. Also, all official program appointments will be held in English.
What are you looking for in my recommendation letter?
First, we would like to know why a week or two in Germany would benefit you and your career in journalism. We are also looking for journalists interested in becoming long-term and enthusiastic members of the RIAS alumni network. While the program is aimed mainly at mid-career journalists with five to 20 years experience, exceptional younger or more senior candidates are also included in our programs and encouraged to apply.
We are also looking for your news director’s support of your participation in the program and for your news director’s assessment of your professional qualities as a journalist and your commitment to the profession. If you are a news director applying for the program, your letter of recommendation should come from your general manager.
When can I expect to hear something?
Leading candidates are invited for video conference interviews in January/February (for June and September programs) and final decisions are rendered in writing as soon as possible after those interviews.
Can I shoot or work on stories on the trip?
The programs are often tightly scheduled. But fellows are encouraged and welcome to try to work on stories in between the meetings or in the evenings, which are usually free. Other alternatives include hiring your own crew, using a network crew which you have arranged yourself, or bringing your own equipment.
How many people go on the trip?
Groups range from 10 to 15 diverse participants, and represent a range of experience levels, market sizes and geographic locations.
What expenses are paid?
The following expenses are paid by the program: round trip airfare from your home city to Germany; ground travel during the program; hotel; some networking event meals/drinks. Participants are responsible for passport and visa fees as needed, telephone, laundry, airport parking and transfers from home to airport in the U.S., meal expenses and any other personal expenses.
What if I want to stay in Europe after this program?
Many participants stay longer in Germany or travel to other countries in Europe at their own expense after the program. Although spouses and families are not permitted on the program, they can join participants after the program is over for personal travel. If you are chosen for the program, further logistical details on this option will be provided to you.
I work in local news and have never done an international story — am I eligible to apply?
Yes. Many participants work in local news. This program exists to introduce journalists to Germany first-hand, particularly if they do not have the opportunity in their own work to cover Germany and Europe. Many past participants have subsequently discovered connections from their communities to Germany that they never knew existed.
Hosting German Journalism Fellows
You and your staff can deepen your knowledge of Germany first-hand by hosting visiting German journalists during either the spring or fall program. Fellowships last approximately no longer than four or five days and typically involve one German journalist. There is no financial outlay required on the part of the station, nor on the individual host.
These fellowships are dynamic, interactive opportunities for both the host station and the visiting journalist. Fellowship hosts should plan on integrating the journalist into the life of the newsroom by including the German fellow in the entire news process, including planning meetings, street reporting, live reports and studio programs. In many cases, visiting RIAS Fellows have contributed to story production either behind the scenes or on the air; some are even interviewed on topics ranging from their impressions of America, to German/U.S. relations.
Hosts and visitors should view the fellowship experience as an opportunity to build personal and professional bridges that will strengthen their understanding of both countries. (Read: “Comments about the German-American Exchange Program” (next topic))
And, yes, one need not have already participated in the RIAS Fellowship Program in order to host a visiting RIAS Fellow from Germany.
For further information, a draft schedule for station visits, or to discuss being a fellowship host, please contact: email@example.com
Comments about the German-American Exchange Program
Our briefings with so many of the nation’s top political, social, military and financial leaders, coupled with our ability to sample life in so much of present-day Germany — eastern and western — provided the best possible guide to understanding one of the most important countries on the world scene. A terrific program!
Peter Landis, News Director, New York 1 News, New York
It’s not just a media tour in terms of hearing the official line–you get ample opportunity to ask country. It was a very good reminder that the world is awfully small and even if we’re focused on a local market, there are numerous links ties between our two countries and many reasons to be interested in Germany.
Johanna Cleary, News Director, Alabama Public Television, Montgomery, AL
The most fascinating part of the trip was what I didn’t expect — that reunification was not a done deal — it is an ongoing process. This truly opened my eyes — he issues for Germany, such as thinking about losing the deutschmark as losing their identity – all these things that would have never occurred to me.
Doris Bergman, Producer, New York 1 News, New York
I was struck by how many of the problems we face in the U.S. are very similar to the problems in Germany — balancing the budget, should we cut taxes, immigration problems. It surprised me that Germany faces so many of the same dilemmas as we do, and seeing how they are working to solve them.
Mark Curtis, Correspondent, Cox Broadcasting, Washington
Hosting German Journalists at your station
Hosting German journalists gives you a good opportunity to reexamine how you do what you do from an outsiders point of view. It’s a great learning experience. The chance to exchange ideas with your peers from outside the market is an invaluable tool for your staff. I think every newsroom — no matter what market size — should take advantage of this.
Rod Jackson, Managing Editor, KTVX-TV, Salt Lake City, 1997 Fellowship Host
I was pleasantly surprised when I started working on my series at how many ties Germany already has with my small state of West Virginia — and those ties are growing. I am glad that I was able to help my audience understand some of those transatlantic relationships.
Jim Wallace, News Director, West Virginia Public Radio
Germans and Americans have common roots, but more important, striking differences. By exposing ourselves to other cultures, we can learn from their successes, avoid their shortcomings and see our own country more objectively. This program offers an outstanding incentive for journalists to build a cultural bridge between audiences.
Dick Custin, Reporter and Weekend Anchor for WZZM-TV, Grand Rapids, MI
With RIAS in Germany 2011