"Burns final report"
Burns final report Chelsea Wald My situation changed dramatically between the time I applied for the Burns and the time I accepted it: I moved from New York City to Vienna, Austria. As a result, the Burns took on a new meaning for me. It was not just an opportunity to spend a little time working abroad, it was a bridge to my new life. Improving my German (I spoke very little), meeting my European colleagues, and learning more about reporting in Europe would be invaluable for my future. Orientation Everything started with the orientation week, where we got to know each other, ate and drank a lot, and listened to many talks on the state of "transatlantic relations." It was a pleasure to get to know the German journalists. In retrospect, I wish I had learned more from them about the specific differences between how American and German journalists work, but at that point we didn't really even know the right questions to ask. For example, one German journalist asked how American journalists identify themselves when they call a source on the phone. That's a great question! And I later learned that, in Germany, sources are often allowed to approve or edit their interviews prior to publication. That kind of information would probably have been worth a whole session. I'm sure there are a lot of important differences that I still don't know. German lessons I had an excellent teacher at the Goethe Institut in Bonn, which seemed largely devoted to serving Arabic-speaking doctors training at the nearby medical school. My course was in the mornings, from 8:30am until 1pm. I was scheduled to go for two weeks of a four-week course and then start work at Deutsche Welle, my Burns placement. However, the course was so valuable that, in consultation with my contact at Deutsche Welle, I paid for the final two weeks myself, going to work in the afternoons after class starting the third week. Based on this experience, I would say that it might be possible for people to start going to work part time during the second week of classes, after jetlag has dissipated. Most fellows say they didn't have more than a half day's work to do the first weeks anyhow because it takes a little while to "ramp up" at the office. My placement Deutsche Welle is a government-funded broadcaster. The Bonn offices contain the radio and online programs; TV is in Berlin. Deutsche Welle goes out in 30 languages, of which German and English are the biggest. I was in the English program. Deutsche Welle has many, many temporary workers from around the world coming through all the time. Mostly, they're interns or freelancers. The good thing about this is that they have lots of infrastructure in place to deal with these temporary people, including Burns fellows. On the other hand, everyone assumes that you're either an intern or a freelancer, and, if you're a Burns fellow, you're neither. I would suggest that future Burns fellows explain to editors that they are something in between. In particular, the editors don't have to pay you like a freelancer, but they also don't get to boss you around like an intern. Ultimately, Deutsche Welle takes a sink-or-swim attitude to both its freelancers and interns. You are responsible for making yourself useful, which I assume most Burns fellows would be able to do. People who make themselves especially useful may even be able to stay on – as freelancers, if not as actual staff. For that reason, Deutsche Welle would be an excellent placement for someone trying to make a more permanent move to Germany. The dress code at Deutsche Welle is fairly casual, but I saw everything from jeans to suits on a daily basis. My stories The head of Deutsche Welle Englisch (Kristin Zeier) did absolutely the right thing by attaching me to the editors of the subjects that I'm interested in (Environment and Science/Technology). Fellows who like a newsroom-like environment might want to be placed at the News and Public Affairs section. Pitching went both ways – from me to my editors and from my editors to me. They respected my independence, and I felt free to say "no" if a story didn't seem like a good fit for me. One of my online stories turned out to be the editor's "favourite article this year." That was of course gratifying to learn. If I had known how much control I would have over my own schedule, I probably would have arranged more for myself in advance. For example, as a science reporter, I would have scheduled tours of interesting scientific labs in the region. Happily, I pitched one story that took me to Hamburg and Berlin, and Deutsche Welle picked up the tab. They don't have an endless budget for travel, but travel is certainly possible given the right story idea. My housing/free time Bonn is the smallish former capital of Germany, and now home to several biggish organizations – the Deutsche Welle, the Deutsche Post, and a few branches of the United Nations. There are nice trail networks in Bonn, especially for biking. Only 45 minutes away is the lovely Ahr Valley: wine country. For a bigger-city experience, Cologne is a short train ride away. Many people at Deutsche Welle live in Cologne and commute to Bonn. The Beethovenfest happens during the fellowship period. If you like classical music, it's worth buying tickets before you arrive, as they sell out. I easily found a shared apartment through http://www.wg-gesucht.de. My roommate, a student at Bonn University, turned out to be the surprise bonus of this whole experience. She showed me around, introduced me to her friends, and helped me feel at home. I'm sure we will stay in touch.