Dr. Lee B. Becker and Dr. Rainer Hasters

German-American Exchange Offers Chance to Explain Reactions to Iraq War

"A program such as this is more important in these difficult times than ever," Rainer Hasters, executive director of the RIAS Berlin Kommission, told a group of about 100 journalists who had participated in the German-American exchange program who gathered in Las Vegas in April.

The American television and radio journalists should use the expertise they obtained from their two-week visits to Germany to help explain to Americans some of the reasons for the different reactions of Germans and Americans to the war in Iraq, Hasters said. The war was raging as the group met in Las Vegas for the reunion.

The RIAS Berlin Kommission, established after Germany became reunited in 1989, supports exchanges between German and American broadcast journalists to foster understanding on the part of the journalists of the two countries. RIAS was the American radio station broadcasting to east Germans during the country's partition after World War II.

Hasters said he felt the rift between the German and American governments over the war in Iraq, led by American forces and opposed strongly by the German government, could be healed with increased communication.

The U.S. journalists assembled at the meeting in the Las Vegas Hilton hotel at the beginning of the annual meeting of the Radio Television News Directors Association. RTNDA is a partner with RIAS in the exchange program.

Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, joined the group in Las Vegas. The Cox Center collaborates with RIAS by hosting German journalists who are visiting the U.S. as part of the exchange program. The German broadcast journalists attend classes and meet with students and faculty in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College.

Three doctoral students in the Grady College also have participated in the exchange by joining broadcast journalists in Germany. Each worked as a broadcast journalist prior to beginning doctoral studies at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Becker also joined one of the U.S. broadcast journalist groups visiting Germany in October of 2000 and another visiting Germany and Poland in January of 2002. Dr. C. Ann Hollifield, a professor in the Grady College who also participated in the October 2000 program, also attended the reunion in Las Vegas.

Prior to the RIAS reunion, Dr. Becker joined Olha Kulish, a visitor to the Cox Center from Ukraine, in attending sessions of the Broadcast Education Association (BEA), meeting in Las Vegas prior to the RTNDA conference. The BEA sessions dealt with topics such as teaching broadcast journalism at universities and interpretation of ratings data used by broadcasters to evaluate audience responses to programs.

The pair also toured a state-of-the art research facility operated by the broadcasting company CBS to learn audience reactions to its programming.

Kulish, deputy general director of Volyn State TV and Radio Company, Lutsk, Ukraine, began a three-month visit to the Cox Center and Grady College in March to gain expertise in TV and radio network management.

While in Las Vegas, Kulish also attended sessions of the National Association of Broadcasters convention, held concurrently with those of RTNDA.