Two Germans and one American won the 2005 Arthur F. Burns Awards for stories resulting from their fellowship program last year. Susanne Gieffers and Fabian Mohr each received their 2,000 euro prize from Germany’s Foreign Minister at the annual Burns alumni dinner and lecture in Berlin on May 5. Klaus Scharioth, Germany’s new ambassador to the United States, will present the award to American Helen Fessenden on July 26 at the reception in Washington, D.C., for the 2006 Burns Fellows.
In “Der Hirte der Sündenböcke (The Shepard of the Scapegoats),” Fessenden chronicles four years of the Bush administration’s handling of crisis situations. Published in Der Tagesspiegel online on the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and barely two weeks after hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, Fessenden resisted common stereotypes, but instead used clear and composed language in her somber analysis of Washington’s dealing with Katrina.
Gieffers compared several common aspects and problems of her home city and her Burns host city in nine weekly columns titled “Neuneinhalb Wochen (Nine and a Half Weeks).” Published by the Bremen edition of die tageszeitung, Gieffers’ columns analyzed Minneapolis and how it compares with Bremen in regard to tourism, traffic, political party machines and peace movements, among other issues. (See sidebar.)
Mohr received his award for his multi-media coverage of “Burning Man,” an extravagant art festival, which annually attracts tens of thousands to the Nevada desert. Mohr’s two-week long continuous reporting fed both his home and host media outlets – Bayerischer Rundfunk online and mercurynews.com – with stunning print, photo, film and audio segments.
Kerstin Kohlenberg (Germany, 2002) and Karen Radziner (U.S., 2003) each received an honorable mention for their 2005 entries. Based on superb research, Kohlenberg’s analysis of one hundred years of Las Vegas, titled “Alles auf eine Karte (All or Nothing)” ( Die Zeit, May 4, 2005), introduces readers to a side of Sin City that would likely stay hidden during a regular visit. Radziner’s 15-minute-long radio feature titled “Devora’s Stone” (aired on Jan. 19, 2005 as part of Deutsche Welle Radio’s “Living in Germany” series) follows a young California woman on her trip to Germany to research her great-grandfather – who, as a Jew in 1941 Berlin, committed suicide.
The 2005 George F. Kennan German-American Commentary Award went to Andreas Geldner for “Wir befinden uns in Preussisch-USA – Deutschlands missverstandene Amerikanisierung (We are in a Prussian-USA – Germany’s misunderstood Americanization).” In his article published on May 14, 2005 in Stuttgarter Zeitung, Geldner questions the recent increase in demands by German businesses and politicians to Americanize Germany’s economy. These demands, according to Geldner, are an “Americanization à la carte” to create a Prussian version of America, one that leaves out some of America’s most successful attributes – like the incentive to try new things without fear of failure.
Thomas Spang, U.S. correspondent for several regional newspapers in Germany, received an honorable mention for his four-part series on U.S. power structures titled “Grenzen der Macht (Borders of Power),” published in Saarbrücker Zeitung. The jury applauded such an in-depth analysis in a regional paper, and the good timing of the series.
The jury for both awards was composed of journalists Sabine Christiansen (ARD), Dr. Christoph von Marschall ( Tagesspiegel), Claus Strunz ( Bild am Sonntag), Florian Illies ( Monopol) and Dominik Wichmann ( Süddeutsche Zeitung), as well as Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling (ZDF) and Dr. Anna Prinz (Federal Foreign Office of Germany).