Nina Werkhaeuser, Dr. Becker, Marion Huetter, and Dietmar Schiffermueller.

Three German Broadcast Journalists Share Experiences with Georgia Students

Marion Huetter, Dietmar Schiffermueller and Nina Werkhaeuser spent a week in October learning about American journalism education and sharing their experiences while working in German media with graduate and undergraduate students in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

The three, broadcast journalists working in Germany, were in Georgia as part of an ongoing exchange sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission, in collaboration with the Radio Television News Directors Foundation in Washington.

This was the fourth year that the Grady College has hosted RIAS journalists. The program for the journalists this year, as in the past, was organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College.

The week in Athens for Huetter, Schiffermueller and Werkhaeuser was part of a month-long visit to the United States. The three had spent a week in Washington and a week at broadcast stations around the country before coming to Georgia. They spent the final week of the program in New York.

During their stay in Georgia, the visitors received a tour of UGA and were guests in several Grady College classes, including journalism ethics and international mass communication. They also participated in a question-and-answer luncheon with graduate students of the Grady College.

During the visit to the classes, Huetter said, "I felt like a student again." She said she even learned some techniques of lighting she did not know before.

The journalists visited The Red and Black, the student newspaper of the UGA community, and met with Dr. Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards, which are housed in the Grady College. Dr. Lee Becker, director of the Cox Center, hosted the journalists, faculty and students at a barbeque at his home.

Dr. Becker and Cox Center Assistant Director Dr. Tudor Vlad also took the three to Atlanta, where they visited CNN and met with Todd Fantz, senior director of technology. The group also visited the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where they met with Public Editor Mike King.

During the luncheon with Grady College graduate students, the journalists discussed many current issues affecting both German and international journalism as well as the difference between the way journalists are educated in the two countries.

"Most people don't study journalism in Germany but instead work as freelance reporters and then do an internship to get into broadcasting," Schiffermueller said.

Terrorism and U.S. policy on Iraq came up in several of the discussions.

"The U.S. is not used to having war in the country," Huetter said. "In Germany there are many people who remember war. The events of September 11 showed us a little of what war can be like. Germany is not a country to say ‘Let's go to war.' It's also not anti-American."

A total of 12 German journalists participated in the exchange program. Other universities hosting the journalists were Brigham Young, Northwestern and Syracuse.

Huetter works in Berlin for n-tv, a sister television company of CNN. Schiffermueller works in Hamburg, where he produces investigative reports about political and social issues for a political television news magazine on ARD, Germany's national public television. Werkhaeuser is a radio correspondent in Berlin for Deutsche Welle, the Germany international broadcasting service, where she covers foreign and security issues.

In the week before the UGA visit, Huetter was in Chicago, Schiffermueller was in Bend, Oregon., and Werkhaeuser was in Portland, Oregon, participating in their individual internships.

"I expected the journalists here would be more superficial," Schiffermueller said. "But when I went to my station in Oregon I found that the journalists are very close to what happens in the local area. That surprised me very much. I didn't expect that."

"Something that surprised me on the whole in the U.S. ," Werkhaeuser said, "is that the opinions on Iraq are not one dimensional as we thought when we looked at it from the other side of the Atlantic. Everybody is discussing different arguments. There are not so many people who are really pro war, which I had expected. Obviously your president has one opinion, but very, very many Americans have another opinion."

"What surprised me is that many students were very liberal and very critical of the Bush administration," Schiffermueller said.

Schiffermueller said he had many conversations with students on many different topics. As a result, he said, he learned about American football, about the local music scene, and about student concerns.

Three Grady College doctoral students have visited Germany as part of the U.S. component of the RIAS exchange program. They joined broadcast journalists from around the country in a two-week study tour of Germany.

"The students and faculty of the Grady College have learned a lot from this exchange program," Cox Center Director Dr. Becker said. "We are honored and pleased to be a part of it."