Unsettled: A measured view of immigration from Ohio

Please visit the story page to hear the radio special on immigration in Ohio, and listen to authentic voices from Painesville.

Immigrants come in many forms, but the goal is often the same: more opportunity, more security, more stability.

Who these people are, and under what conditions they come, stay, or leave the United States–or wherever they are destined–are issues of immense consequence.

Despite the gravity of the issue, or maybe because of it, good journalism about immigration, immigrants, systems of exclusion, etc, is often drowned out in favor of bad journalism. Continue reading “Unsettled: A measured view of immigration from Ohio”

‘Protecting’ the (Canadian) border

Contraband

I will admit that my family is perhaps a little more internationally-minded than the average American family, but we really were just looking for lunch when we headed into Canada one Friday.  When we were in Switzerland a regular outing would be to take the train to Germany or France for shopping and lunch.  The border was so close, just asking to be crossed.  The Schengen zone has made visa-free travel the rule in Europe, and crossing borders is as natural as a daily commute. (In fact, many border-crossers live and work in different countries)  For the USA, borders are considered a little more serious areas of security and protection.  U.S. citizens now need passports to get into Canada and back, and have long been profiled and searched while coming through land-crossings from Mexico.

Still, my troupe is fresh from Europe, with a slightly less sense of danger while around borders.  This is why we decided to take a day trip into British Columbia one day, just to find a restaurant and then head home.  In all my traveling, from Athens to Oslo to Cairo, I had never been to Canada.  So we set our plans, not knowing the interrogation to come.

Continue reading “‘Protecting’ the (Canadian) border”

Rediscovering the “homeland”

Welcome back

It wasn’t a surprise, but it also wasn’t necessarily the easiest solution:  my former employer World Radio Switzerland was sold by the public service, destined to become a local commercial station in Geneva.  That change has happened, and the vast majority of regular news staff from the public service were let go.

Our station had a tough history–one better explained in person and over a beverage–but it had accomplished an impressive task of producing award-winning coverage about Switzerland, and educating Swiss and ex-pats alike as to how that idiosyncratic country works (or doesn’t.)

The staff of WRS was given about a year to prepare itself for the eventual sale.  Some claimed our jobs would be secure until 2014, others, myself included, expected less.  We lost our political reporter and news director right away, and others were looking at the door.

As my family had to begin to think about schooling for my child, and I had to focus on my dissertation for my MA, we made one of the hardest decisions we have ever made: quit, leave Switzerland, and leave Europe, after four years abroad.  Shortly after we made this decision, and I gave my notice, the station’s sale was finalized and a timeline was in motion.

Staff had about three months before they would be laid-off, and the station and all content would disappear to be reborn as another kind of radio.  It is not my kind of radio, but it didn’t really affect me; my plans were already in motion.

Readjusting to the USA, which I hadn’t visited in two years, has been difficult.  It is even more difficult than when I returned from two months in Germany back in 2008.  At that time I wrote this: “People ask if it’s hard to readjust after two months abroad.  In some ways it is: the little German I know is now less useful, and I have to be careful not to use it without context.  It’s weird not using trains and public transport, even walking everywhere.  And it’s weird answering the question “is it hard to readjust after two months abroad.”

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Analysis: The state of journalism and multiculturalism in German public radio

Journalism's changing

Editor’s Note:  This is a personal narrative and commentary about German public radio, and multiculturalism therein, based on my experience in the last years.  I offer my observations, suggestions, and hopes, perhaps to prompt further thought or consideration from journalists and newsreaders alike.  Warning..this is a long one!

“You have no idea what you are talking about, Luka*.“  The small Greek colleague pushed a harshly dismissive comment toward Luka, incensing something primal in the latter.  I had not yet met this colleague, after all I was just considered a Praktikant, an intern, a visitor, a stranger and kept more or less to myself unless prompted.  I sat at the back corner of the meeting table in a German editorial meeting.

“How do you know what I have an idea about?” Luka shot back in his thick accent—Bosnian or Hungarian, I wasn’t quite sure.  The other members of this multi-cultural editorial staff shifted their eyes nervously, some chuckled, not sure what to do.  I stopped moving all-together, frozen in a pose for observation: my posture slouched, my chin buried in my hands, my eyes fixed.  A discussion about refugees from Eastern Europe quickly turned heated.

“You don’t know what the refugees need.  You don’t know who they are, or what they are doing.”  The Greek colleague looked sure of himself, almost taunting the situation to escalate.  A soft winter light shone in through the windows behind me, and story ideas pinned to a tack board fluttered slightly.

Continue reading “Analysis: The state of journalism and multiculturalism in German public radio”