Grant helps Patty Bloom '12 study German media landscape

School of International Affairs Student Patty Bloom

Patty Bloom, who will receive her master's degree in International Affairs from Penn State in 2012, was one of only fifteen journalists and students to receive a German-American Fulbright Fellowship to attend the Berlin Capital Program in November 2010. She learned about German media and politics during the week long event and captured some of the highlights in a diary which she has posted below.

Saturday-I'm finally in New York's JFK airport, waiting to meet the rest of the 2010 Berlin Capital Program participants. I applied for the program in June of last year, and being accepted was incredibly exciting. All program participants are under age thirty and work or study many different types of journalism.
Sunday-Crossing the Atlantic as a group unleashed a noisy Fulbright section on the plane. Orientation begins around dinnertime, and we will be taking a walking tour of our neighborhood followed by a networking hour.
Monday-Today's lectures focused mainly on the difference between American and German media, as well as its role in the political system.
Few Americans have the opportunity to visit the Bundestag (German parliament) and hear about the trials and tribulations of government officials working with the press. It came as a surprise to our group that a recent controversy revolved around the possibility of German legislative representatives spending government money on Montblanc pens. Local press has been demanding politicians disclose just how much money has been spent on the pens and how many each politician owns.
Our day of discussions was followed by a tour of the art featured in the Reichstag building. When Soviet and American soldiers gained control of Berlin at World War II, they signed their names upon the walls of the building. Following the tour, we made our way up into the Reichstag dome, from which one can look out onto the city of Berlin or down into the main hall of parliament.
Tuesday-We started our day with a tour of Berlin and a visit to the Berlin Wall. We headed to the Confederation of German Trade Unions, which represents eight of Germany's main labor unions and seven million people, to hear about labor market policies. Unions are an important factor of German political culture, and are a necessity to their way of life.
Wednesday-Up before dawn, we take the train to Hamburg, in Northern Germany for a tour of Tagesschau. Tagesschau, a primary news source for most citizens, is historically the oldest and most watched television show in Germany. Tagesschau is a little like the “Today Show,” however it follows Germany's unique broadcast style, which looks very different from what many Americans are used to seeing.
After lunch at the station, we head to Gruner + Jahr, Europe's largest European printing and publishing firm. Gruner + Jahr has over 12,000 employees and owns over 285 magazines and 22 newspapers.
We then continue on to Hamburg's Amerikazentrum (American Center) for a panel discussion regarding new technology's effects on journalism. Every journalist has a different opinion about how social media and blogging have impacted the 24-hour news cycle so the discussion quickly becomes heated.Each discussion is a unique introduction to a piece of German culture.
Thursday-We are back in Berlin, and headed to the Kreuzberg section of Berlin, an area known for its large Turkish population and artistic emphasis. On every corner is a different food stand, and many walls have incredibly ornate graffiti. Kreuzeberg is home to many galleries, including the New Society for Visual Arts, where the group met MP Alice Strover, spokesperson for Culture and Media for the Green Party in the Berlin House of Representatives and chair of Cultural Affairs Committee.
Throughout the trip, we discussed immigration and integration of ethnic and religious groups in Germany. After lunch, we visited the Neue Synagogue, one of Berlin's few synagogues. It escaped Nazi wrath during Kristallnacht when many synagogues were destroyed. There, we attended a panel discussion with several of Germany's religious leaders on immigrant integration issues. Following the discussion several German Fulbright Diversity Alumni join us for dinner.
Friday-We visited the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen. Prior to reunification, when Berliners in the East suffered under a communist regime, political prisoners were taken to there. Today it is a memorial and stands as a symbol of those who experience oppression all over the world. Up until the Berlin Wall fell, political prisoners filled many of the cells.
Saturday-A small group of us wake up early and venture to one of Berlin's many outdoor markets and visit the Pergamon museum, which includes massive reconstructions of Pergamon, an ancient Greek ruin of Turkish origin. We also visit a small square in the middle of West Berlin which houses an artist community. The square is filled with graffiti, found art, stands of jewelry, oil paintings and pedestrians. I decided to buy my favorite souvenir of the trip, an oil painting of the city of Berlin. Upon returning to the United States, I had it framed; it serves as a reminder of one of the best academic experiences of my life.