Foreign Correspondents in Berlin

November 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

Yesterday I went to the reception for the Foreign Press Association (Verein der auslaendischen Presse in Deutschland: http://www.vap-berlin.de/index.shtml).

I was a member of this group when I worked here last between 1987 and 1996. Actually there were two groups then — one for the correspondents in Bonn and Frankfurt, the other for those in Berlin.

It didn’t seem to have that many people back then. Of course at a reception people bring their spouses, significant others and the like.

But the VAP lists 416 members. That’s quite impressive. What was interesting to me is the number of colleagues from east European countries — places that weren’t even their own countries when I first came to Germany.

The press group has one correspondent from Georgia (not the Atlanta one), one from Bosnia-Herzegovnia, curiously there are two from Serbia and two from Serbia-Montenegro. I thought Serbia and Montenegro split, but maybe I’m wrong.

There are four journalists from the Ukraine, two from Slovakia, four from the Czech Republic and 11 from Russia.

But the biggest surprise to me came when I counted the number of U.S. journalists in this group. There are 60 — by far the largest contingent.

The number of US journalists is more than 50% higher than those coming from neighboring France, which has 34 correspondents. The Brits have 32, Italy 26 and Japan 30.

The U.S. contingent makes up about 14% of the entire group.

But news about Germany hardly makes up 14% of the news flow in American media — or anything close to that. And in reality there are more than 60 members who are American, as there are several Americans who work for the non-American outlets, such as those based in Great Britain, or for the English-language service of foreign languages organizations, like France’s Agence France Presse. Those folks are counted as UK or French members.

A closer look reveals that a lot of these folks write about things economic, and that makes sense. These days there’s not much non-business news about Germany that makes it into the U.S. press — at least on a regular basis.

At a radio conference years ago NPR Host Robert Siegel told me that the “Germans have managed to make themselves completely unnewsworthy.”

Mmmm. I don’t think that’s true, but if Robert Siegel says that, it might explain the derth of German news in the US press, oder?

§ One Response to Foreign Correspondents in Berlin

  • joanfischer says:

    Wow, I don’t think that’s true, either—Germany’s environmental innovations alone are worth reading about frequently and are something we all could learn from. The Germans haven’t made themselves unnewsworthy; rather, we Americans, ever smug in delusions of our own “exceptionalism,” are used to tuning out the world.

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