Leoneda Inge – Berlin to Brussels 2014

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The Media Mix

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The temperature outside has tempered and cooled a bit in Berlin. A little rain did the trick. But the conversations were interesting and steamy today as fellows with the RTDNF German/American Journalists Exchange met with Thomas One and Thomas Two. Thomas Habicht is a former “radio man” who has now taken his expertise to newspaper as Berlin correspondent for “shz” media group. Habicht said no matter what some may think, no country is more important to Germany than the United States. And he says former President George H.W. Bush is a major reason why.

Thomas Habicht, "shz" Berlin correspondent, chats with CNN's Ayesha Williams.

Thomas Habicht, “shz” Berlin correspondent, chats with CNN’s Ayesha Williams.


He says Bush I (who turned 90-years-old Thursday) and the US, supported Germany’s reunification, when its neighbors, including France, did not. Habicht says today, polls continue to show more than 95% of German citizens support reunification as the country marches closer toward the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Well, who has benefitted the most from Germany’s reunification? Habicht says “old people” and “young people.” But those in the middle, including a lot of teachers have it hard – “Too young to retire and too old for a fresh start,” said Habicht. It reminds me a lot of North Carolina, which continues to try to transform its economy. There is a “former” middle class in North Carolina who lost their wealth when traditional manufacturing crumbled. When the East and West reunited here, many in East Berlin, who were less educated and had lower wage jobs suffered the most. I’m told the unemployment rate in the former East Berlin is twice as high as in the former West.

Graham Ulkins, WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge, LA, helps me understand the four sectors that made up Berlin - Soviet (East), French, British and American.

Graham Ulkins, WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge, LA, helps me understand the four sectors that made up Berlin – Soviet (East), French, British and American.


After a short visit to the Federal Foreign Ministry offices, we headed to ZDF television studios. Our walk reminded me of high-end Manhattan. With the large Russian Embassy in view, this section of former East Berlin was now the home to stores like Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc and a Westin Hotel. So you may be thinking, how did a “public television station” afford this address?

ZDF “Public” Television gets to play around with a budget of $2.2 billion a year! Each German household has to pay a monthly fee of about $20 (no T-shirt, no mug) to subsidize its public stations. The total pot is $8 billion – a big chunk goes to the “other” public television network and the rest to regional TV and Radio stations.

ZDF's Thomas Walde shows us around the Berlin studios.

ZDF’s Thomas Walde shows us around the Berlin studios.


“Thomas Two,” Thomas Walde is Senior Berlin Correspondent for ZDF, and he wears the part well. He says they have about 500 employees in Berlin and 7,000 or more around the world. Wherever Chancellor Angela Merkel goes, they go. But ZDF – which seems like a mix of the BBC, CNN and CBS – is more than politics and documentaries. It covers entertainment in a big way. I am watching the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Brazil and the game on ZDF. Yes, they beat out the commercial stations to co-carry the event with the other public network. I think I need a ZDF t-shirt!

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Author: leonedainge2014

Leoneda Inge is the Changing Economy Reporter at North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC. She has spent the past decade tracking job loss, gain and innovation in major North Carolina industries including Food and Agriculture, Tobacco, Furniture, Textiles and Biotechnology. Leoneda is honored to be the recipient of a prestigious Alfred I. duPont Award from Columbia University. She and a team of journalists won for the series – North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty. Leoneda has won several other first place awards – including three Gracie Awards from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television, four Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and numerous Associated Press (AP) Awards. Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University (B.S) and Columbia University (M.S) where she was a Knight-Bagehot Journalism Fellow in Business and Economics. Leoneda has also been a Journalism fellow at the University of Michigan, The Institute for Justice and Journalism and the Foreign Press Center (Japan). Leoneda enjoys covering stories that link North Carolina to the global economy. Her work has been recently heard on National Public Radio (NPR) and WBUR’s “Here & Now.” When Leoneda is not reporting, she loves training future Journalists. She has served as a mentor for NPR’s Next Generation Radio project, and taught at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC.

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