Berlin, Germany -- Meredith Beal was one of 10 U.S. News Directors and Gatekeepers participating in a special Berlin program selected for the 2009 RIAS Berlin Fellowship. This program in Germany for broadcast media gatekeepers, designed specifically for radio and television news directors, assistant news directors, vice presidents for news, and senior editors took place one week after the 2009 general election in Germany and provided the participants with first impressions of the future shape of German politics. It brought our American journalists to German newsrooms and German political offices to hear first hand how the media covers stories and issues in Germany.
They were able to compare and discuss broadcast structures and news coverage models, public and private radio and television entities in Germany, along with viewing trends, content and form, and the impact of technology and new media on future developments in news coverage and news gathering.
During the program participants saw Berlin, the capital of Germany, and discussed the changes and challenges 19 years after German unification. The participants got a close look at modern Germany and saw how business and political interests work within the increasingly globalized economy.
On Monday, October 5, the American journalists visited the German Parliament and talked with Karsten D. Voigt, coordinator of German-American cooperation at the Federal Foreign Office, about the election results and transatlantic relations. The political talks continued on Tuesday when the group met senior editors from Radio Berlin-Brandenburg and Deutschlandradio Kultur. In the aftenoon the ten U.S. journalists visited the Turkish Community in Berlin to discuss immigration and integration issues. On Wednesday they visited the public radio- and TV station Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) to learn more about their local radio- and TV programs for Berlin and Brandenburg. An excursion to Hamburg was scheduled on Thursday with a visit of the most popular German TV news “Tagesschau” which attracts a daily audience of up to 7 to 8 million viewers. Tagesschau has launched interesting new internet news formats and also a short 1-minute podcast version. The official program concluded on Friday, October 9 with an analysis of the German election by Infratest Dimap, an institute of electoral and political research, and a trip to the former Stasi prison Hohenschönhausen, where the plot of the 2009 Oscar-winning movie “The Lives of the Others” was set. A trip to beautiful Potsdam followed on Saturday, October 10, before the participants returned to the States on Sunday, October 11.