The Germans came, and were impressed

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    By MEAGAN BRUNSON

    Three German journalists who visited BYU for ten days left Provo on Friday impressed by what they saw.

    Britta Sembach, Barbara Scherle and Paul Amberg, who work for German television stations, came to BYU as part of the Radio In the American Sector (RIAS) Berlin Commission’s foreign exchange program. It was the first time any of the three had visited an American college, and Sembach said BYU looked well-kept, clean and well-equipped.

    “We see the many possibilities you have in this university,” Scherle said. “Everything is so well-equipped, it’s impressive.”

    The journalists visited and lectured in history and communications classes and a German culture class to interact with students.

    Sembach, who is from Cologne and writes for German television station WDR, said she was amazed and impressed at BYU students’ knowledge about German culture.

    “They knew so much about our cultural history, we were sitting there hoping they would not ask us questions we couldn’t answer,” she said.

    Not only were students well-informed about German culture, but they were anxious to share it with the journalists, she said.

    “We sat here in Provo, Utah, and sang the German national anthem with BYU students,” Sembach said. “It was amazing, we were so impressed.”

    Scherle, from Munich, who works for German network SAT1, said BYU students seemed to be more internationally aware and bilingual because so many of them have served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “It is unusual that so many students here can speak German,” Scherle said.

    All three journalists saw differences between BYU and German universities: In Germany, students don’t pay college tuition, but their college experience doesn’t offer as many professional opportunities as a school like BYU. They are expected to get training in a field like journalism separately from college, Sembach said.

    “We don’t have the professional training you have here,” Sembach said. “At BYU you get to learn on the job.”

    Sembach said students should really believe in the career they choose, whether it be journalism or something else.

    “Think more about the issues and always be passionate about your job — let that passion drive you,” she said.

    Amberg, from Wiesbaden, who is a producer for German television station ZDF, said students need to remember that U.S. news is only one part of the world.

    “In different parts of the world, things are going on too, and they’re going on in a different way,” Amberg said. “Always keep in mind that there are several ways — the U.S. is not the only way.”

    Amberg said the biggest difference in U.S. and German coverage of news is the U.S. focus on human interest versus the German concentration on politics.

    While in Utah, the journalists participated in BYU activities, such as lectures and concerts, and they listened to Senator Rudman speak on October 28.

    They also went to Park City to film a broadcast news story about the 2002 Winter Olympics. They edited the piece at BYU’s NewsNet and will air it in Germany when they return.

    Scherle conducted interviews for a news story she will write about BYU and its students to run in a German newspaper.

    John Dancy, BYU’s visiting professor of communications and interim director of International Media Studies, who coordinated the journalists’ activities while they were here, said the journalists left a positive impression of their own.

    “They’ve contributed to the life of BYU,” Dancy said. “They have given so freely of their time to interact with our students and talk to them about the way the media works in another country.”

    Suzanna Crage, 25, a graduate student in communications, who was a guide to the journalists, said the journalists were impressed with the professionalism of BYU journalism students and with news stations they visited in the U.S.

    The journalists have spent a week in Washington, D.C., visited television stations all over the country, including stations in Houston, Kansas City and more, as part of their exchange, and will spend one week in New York before they leave the United States.

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