by Regina Jehl & Anne-Marie Zeif
During their exchange semester in Salzburg Chinese students alongside their Austrian and German colleagues got the chance to visit some of the most important media institutions in Germany and Austria. On the 25th of October in 2016 they embarked on a journey to a fieldtrip to Munich.
First on the schedule was a visit to Huffington Post. Located in the impressive Hubert-Burda-building in Munich the Huffington Post provides readers with a modern way of news distribution. The Huffington Post is originally from the United States, where it was founded in 2005. Since 2013 there is also a German version, which only operates online. The paper adapted the unique blog style. The Huffington Post serves as an example of a modern way of journalism. The class got an insight into the media production practice as the editor-in-chief Sebastian Matthes spoke to the students and gave them tour around the editorial department. The offices are currently getting renovated to represent the contemporary vibe which the paper wants to convey. The future of modern journalism seems to lie in the hand of the film and online sector, says Matthes. The team, consisting of mostly young journalists, explained their daily work to the students. They are in charge of social media and distributing online videos. Since the Huffington Post is a news blog a lot of articles are contributed by freelance journalists. All these possibilities show that the Huffington Post tries to stay contemporary and goes with the time.
After the lunch break the MCM students went to visit the BR, the Bayrischer Rundfunk. Especially for the Chinese students this institution appeared to be very interesting, because it is public organisation. The big difference to China is that Germany has a total freedom of press, except if you write or show something unethical (racism, sexism, etc.). The Chinese students were surprised to learn that the German journalists don’t have any other restrictions concerning their work. The class got a tour through the building, which was a huge areal of offices. The BR building had something very special to offer: a soundproof room where all the sounds and noises are produced for their traditional radio theatre. For example they had a trunk to imitate the sound of an old door and an actual staircase to create the sound of moving further away. Besides the typical office rooms the BR has their very own orchestra room, to host their many musical spectacles. As a special treat to end their excursion in Munich the students got to experience a magic show by an acting student.
To sum up this special day in Munich, the students got shown two very different sides of journalism. On the one hand we have the Bayrischer Rundfunk, which operates in the classical way of news production. They rely on radio and television and also use traditional production practices, like the sound imitating. As the students learned their visit the BR doesn’t work as much with social media as other media institutions. The Bayrischer Rundfunk is a traditional media network in all means. Contrary to the BR the Huffington Post operates in a more timely way. The news they provide are only online distributed and they work mostly with the help of social media. The differences in these two institutions are also shown in their places of work. Whilst the BR is relying on well-tried tools and equipment, the Huffington Post is currently renovating their offices to make them look more innovative and modern, to create a pleasant work atmosphere. For example their lunch room is designed in the style of the famous Munich restaurant “Hans im Glück”. As the Chinese students mentioned during their day in Munich, both institutions are benefiting from the freedom of press. Overall especially the Chinese students enjoyed to experience a new form of journalism, since this was the first excursion of many more to come during the upcoming semester.