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Exploring Germany: Stasi-archive, DPA, DW TV and German politics

May 20, 2010

So as an invited blogger guest by the German Foreign Office, I am continuing exploring Germany first hand. As a part of the Blogger Tour, I, together with other 14 bloggers from all over the world, have paid visits to different interesting and fun places in Berlin:

Stasi-archive in Berlin. Yeah, it is a big place full of old used-to-be-secret paper files.  Yeah, it shows how GDR was tough on its people. But, honestly, I was not really surprized seeing all these secret files the Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, shortly Stasi) of GDR opened on people who were against the communist regime in GDR. The tour guide did a great job trying to impress us with astonishing facts on how Stasi officers recruited civilian informants to spy on their close people – friends, parents, siblings or spouses. Well, such things happened often in Central Asia, especially in countries like Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where every security agencies are very developed. So I was not impressed much. But, I really liked the way Germans are preserving these documents, and even giving files’ copies to their subjects! All a person needs to do to look at their Stasi-archive file is to fill an application. Then staff of the archive, which is also a museum now (and Germans are great in creating museums out of everything!), will search for your file, and if there is one, make an appointment with you and show you your file. And most people are very keen to look at their files. Well, who does not want to read the spy reports about them? 🙂

DPA. “Independent, reliable, up-to-the-minute. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year” – that’s how DPA describes itself. DPA is German Press Agency (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) that provides worldwide news to variety of mainstream media organizations, and is competitor of AFP, AP and Reuters. We had a nice talk with Christoph Dernbach, editor-in-chief and managing director at dpa infocom, who told that DPA often works with citizen journalists using new media tools to gather information in places, where they do not have their own reporters. Yet another proof to my thesis that citizen journalism is a great outsourcing for mainstream journalism, not a competitor, as many mainstream media representatives think.

DW TV. Deutsche Welle TV, Germany’s own CNN and BBC, but unlike the latter two, DW TV does not rush after “breaking news”. As Fabian von der Mark, editor at the Television Directorate of DW TV, explained, DW TV tries to give elaborated news that is backed by analyses. We had a short walk around the office of DW TV, and even climbed to its roof that’s full of huge satellite dishes for transmitting news around the globe.

And of course we met Gabriel Gonzalez, project manager of the Deutsche Welle Blog Awards „BOB‘s“. Gabriel told us how BOB’s competition is organized, and what kind of requirements the jury has to blogs. Mahmoud Salem (aka SandMonkey) from Egypt told that some BOB’s jury members are very corrupted, and gave example of a jury from Egypt, who selected winners from his circle of friends.

– We also met with Eberhard Pohl, deputy political director of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. Unlike other meetings, this one was not liked much by many bloggers. Mr Pohl is a great speaker, but it seems he is one of those politicians who speak a lot and beautiful, but say nothing, or very little. We asked different questions, but most of the answers were in “not-my-field-of-expertise” style.

These are the summary updates on the Blogger Tour 2010, where I am proudly representing Kyrgyzstan. More updates to come soon. Stay tuned!

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