Friday was as near perfect a day as one can have in Gutenberg World. We began at 9 a.m. with a tour of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s largest broadcaster. The purpose of DW is to broadcast news from a German perspective in 30 languages around the world. Even though it is a tax-supported organization, DW strives for editorial objectivity. DW began broadcasting on radio in 1953. The television unit began in 1992 after German reunification prompted the shutdown of RIAS (Radio in the American Sector). RIAS was founded in 1946 by the U.S. occupational authorities after to provide the German population in and around Berlin with news and political reporting. The network was funded by the U.S. Government after WWII as counter programming against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall came down, RIAS was no longer needed, and its radio unit became a German national broadcast network. Deutsche Welle inherited the TV studios and began broadcasting via satellite in German, English, and Spanish. Today, the Latin America region is DW’s fastest-growing audience.
PARTICIPATING IN A PANEL AT DEKRA HOCHSCHULE
In January 2012, Makemson and Hatcher were in Berlin’s Deutsches Museum, which this year’s class will visit tomorrow, when we were approached by a documentary filmmaker and college professor named John Kantara. John heard us speaking English, and although he is German, his own English is flawless. We struck up a friendship, and John visited us at Elon last spring. We made arrangements to get his and our students together in January 2013. Today, we followed through by visiting Dekra Hochschule Berlin and spending the afternoon with journalism students there.
John screened a 45-minute video he made on internet censorship for a mixed audience of our class and some 30 of his students. Afterward, he moderated a panel discussion on the topic. The panelists were supposed to be Ben Scott, a former aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and now a visiting fellow with a Berlin think tank; and Timo Goosman, German State Dept. Desk Officer for Cultural and Media Relations with the U.S. and Canada. Goosmann was called away at the last minute to cover for a colleague at the Russian Embassy, so only Scott made it. In Goosmann’s place, Elon student Jeff Stern and Prof. Anthony Hatcher were asked at the last minute to join in the 75-minute panel, which was Webcast live from one of the school’s studios. Jeff, a communications and information science double major, did very well, and Hatcher didn’t embarrass himself or the university.
In the short span of time between the screening of John’s doc and the panel, German and American voices were heard harmonizing down the hall. When John, Harlen, and I looked in the studio, we witnessed our German and American students singing pop songs a cappella and applauding each other’s performances.
After the panel, all of the students and faculty headed out to Berlin’s branch of the Hofbrau Haus for dinner and drinks. Goosmann joined us there, as did Peter Korneffel, a freelance journalist who writes about environmental issues for major magazines and newspapers.
As I write this at 10:30 p.m., I can hear the students outside my hotel window gathering on the sidewalk. The German kids are taking our kids to some music clubs that get rolling around midnight. Harlen and I are staying in just in case the phone rings. That, and we’re tired as heck. We expect to see bleary-eyed but happy students at breakfast in the morning, safe and sound.
All in all, a very successful day.
AND ONE MORE…
There was a balcony off the conference room at Deutsche Welle overlooking the city. We all went out in the snow flurries to snap photos of the skyline before our tour.