Annika Berge, Swedish Consumer Journalist.

Swedish Consumer Journalist Has a One Week Program in the Grady College

Swedish journalist Annika Berge spent one week at the University of Georgia in April learning about consumer journalism in the United States and about changes in the U.S. media landscape produced by the new technologies and by the economic crisis.

Berge currently is a reporter at the biggest consumer magazine in Sweden, Rad & Ron. She also worked as a web editor, radio newscaster and producer.

Her program in Athens, organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, was part of a three-month fellowship with Transatlantic Media Network, coordinated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

The Cox International Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and partnered with CSIS for the visit.

"Baby boomers' retirement is a very interesting phenomenon in Georgia, from a consumer's perspective," Dr. Douglas Bechtel, consumer economics professor, told the Swedish visitor.

"Many come or are planning to come here from the North, looking for warmer weather, and they tend to buy houses in scenic areas, such as the Georgia mountains or the coast. So those areas have to get ready for these new residents and for their needs, such as medical assistance and other services for elderly people."

Dr. Alison Alexander, senior associate dean for academic affairs, gave the Swedish guest an overview of the journalism program at the University of Georgia, while Cecil Bentley, director of Grady College external relations, told her how Grady prepares its graduates for the tough job market.

"We ask our graduates, no matter what their major is, to learn a broad range of skills," Bentley said. "The technologies are evolving fast, but fast and accurate reporting, the ability to tell the story for a variety of platforms, understanding who your audiences are, remain fundamental for those who want a media related job."

Berge attended Dr. Janice Hume's course, Magazine Writing.

"I am a little jealous of the Grady students," the Swedish journalist said after the class. "They have great facilities and good professors, and the size of the class is small enough to enable a dialog between students and professor."

The Swedish guest had meetings with Drs. Tom Reichert, Karin King and Joe Phua to talk about advertising and social media and new trends in public relations and advertising in the United States.

Dr. Reichert is the head of the Advertising and Public Relations Department, while Drs. King and Phua are faculty members in that department.

"We would like to have more submissions from abroad," Dr. Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards program, told the guest. "There is one major criterion when we make the decisions: excellence."

The Peabody Awards are the oldest and most respected broadcast and electronic awards program in the United States.

Dr. Ann Hollifield, head of the telecommunications department, talked with Berge about her research on the adverse effects of hypercompetition in media markets. Research she has conducted in collaboration with Drs. Tudor Vlad and Lee B. Becker has shown that media in extremely competitve markets actually have lower levels of professional performance.

Dr. Vlad, associate director of the Cox Center, took Berge to a luncheon of the Rotary Club of the Classic City of Athens, of which Dr. Vlad is a member, and gave her a tour of the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame at the UGA tennis arena, whose main court is named after a Swedish player, Michael Pernfords.

During her program at the University of Georgia Berge traveled to Atlanta to visit CNN headquarters.

Prior to her visit to Georgia, Berge spent time in Washington, D.C.

The next destinations of her fellowship in the United States were California, Oregon and Washington.

Berge earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Stockholm.