The Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, together with IJP, has established two journalism prizes for an outstanding journalistic piece on the political, economic or cultural situation in the partner country or on the transatlantic relationship. One entry from Germany and one from the United States is selected. The entry must be written or produced in the current calendar year and focus on relations between the United States and Germany or on a topic in either country. The awards are presented at the annual Burns alumni dinner in May in Berlin by a representative of the Foreign Office.
The jury for the award is composed of trustees, former award winners and journalists: Barbara Junge (Tageszeitung), Elisabeth Niejahr (Wirtschaftswoche), Claus Strunz (Axel Springer), Stefan Kornelius (Süddeutsche Zeitung), Michael Bröcker (Rheinische Post), Gordon Repinski (RND), and Frank-Dieter Freiling (ZDF).
Award Winners are:
This year, the prize for the best German-language contributionwas awarded to Christian Schweppe (Burns 2018) of Die Welt for two contributions, both published in the Welt am Sonntag. “Die Lüge" ('The Lie'), published on March 11, 2018 was about the murder of Seth Rich and the resulting brutal war of disinformation. Another article titled “Detective Scarcella”, published on December 16, explored the dubious investigations of a New York detective that led to the imprisonment of 14 innocent people. Schweppe is a meticulous investigator who analyzes major social trends in seemingly incidental events. He takes the time and distance to dispassionately explore these individual tragedies and how they reflect broader divisions in U.S. society.
The jury also would like to commend two other outstanding submissions. U.S. correspondent Katja Ridderbusch (Burns 1999) was lauded for her Deutschlandfunk feature “Der Amerikanische Patient" ('The American Patient') about the state of health care in American society. The feature was broadcast in five parts between August and October 2018 and was co-financed through an IJP Holbrooke Grant.
The second submission commended by the jury was Peter Onneken’s (Burns 2007) feature “I love Trump – warum die Amerikaner ihren Präsidenten lieben" ('I love Trump - why Americans love their president'). The 45-minute long documentary was broadcast on WDR on November 7, 2018, and takes a closer look at the American citizens and regions that voted for Trump two years ago.
The prize for the best North American contribution went to The New York Times’ national correspondent John Eligon (Burns 2018) for his article “The Big Hole in Germany’s Nazi Reckoning? Its Colonial History” published on September 11, 2018. It is well known how comprehensively and publicly Germany has dealt with Nazi crimes. However, the German Empire’s crimes in African colonies are much less illuminated, despite the fact that colonizers’ ideological views on expansion and race later helped to inspire Nazi officials. Eligon links these historic threads and dives deep into the topic of colonial rule in this well-researched piece. He also uses personal stories to convey the current impact of honoring former colonial rulers in the Berlin cityscape.
The 2,000 Euro prize for the best German contribution was awarded to Roman Deininger, editor at Süddeutsche Zeitung, for his report “Sag die Wahrheit" ('Tell the truth'), published on April 22, 2017. With great finesse for language, timing and research, Deininger drew attention to a particularly difficult aspect of Trump’s government work — how to deal with science. The journalist trenchantly illuminated Trump’s ignorance of scientific experts in general and climate experts in particular. The article is a reading pleasure from start to finish.
The jury also praised Martin Schlak’s contribution “Drei Minuten" ('Three Minutes'), published in GEO. In his story, Schlak, along with Vivian Pasquet and two photographers, provided a rarely seen snapshot of emotional tension and personal drama along the Mexican-American border fence, where the U.S. opens the door twice a year for a few moments for brief family reunions. Schlak approached his protagonists with sensitivity on both sides of the fence and provided insight into personal stories that are rarely taken into account in view of the great political debate over national security.
The jury also gave an honorable mention to Roman Pletter, deputy head of the economics desk at Zeit, for his contribution “Die Mächstigste Schule der Welt" ('The most powerful school in the world'), published on May 18, 2017. His report chronicles a group of economists who earned their doctorates at MIT forty years ago and subsequently led countries, central banks and international organizations, all guided by an idea and a school of thought. Pletter’s remarkable research was guided by one question: What if this one idea is wrong?
The prize for this year’s best North American contribution, also worth 2,000 Euro, went to Vauhini Varafor her essay “Can Unions Stop the Far Right?,” published in The Atlanticon Nov. 27, 2017. Vara, who works as a freelance journalist in Colorado, illuminated the political landscape right before the German federal elections in September 2017 in a remarkable way. Taking the central findings from the U.S. election campaign—how Trump won the Rust Belt in 2016 — Vara looked for a German equivalent and investigated the question: What role will the trade unions in Germany, especially the Ruhr region, play? In this outstanding piece of journalism, Vara combines insights into trade unions with profound social analysis.
The prize, worth 2,000 Euro, for the best German contribution was awarded to two winners this year.
Nora Gantenbrink, editor at Stern, was awarded for her report “Zerschlagen,” published in Stern Crime on April 1, 2016. Nora Gantenbrink writes with remarkable density and also ease about a typical American subject: the struggle of man versus man, in this case with a tragic ending. Her report on the tragedy of a New York boxing match from 1983 is told with flashbacks and new insights into the inner-life of two men, whose encounter in the ring brought death to one and anguish to the other.
Kerstin Kohlenberg, U.S. correspondent of Die Zeit in New York, was also awarded for her contribution "The American Dream / Brief an meine Tochter," published in Die Zeit on Dec. 8, 2016 and published on Zeit Online on Dec. 22, 2016. The election of Donald Trump challenges the view of the United States for many friends of America. In a letter to her six-year-old daughter, Kerstin Kohlenberg explains why Trump’s election makes her cry and why she still loves the United States. In an often touching way, Kohlenberg describes the conflict that this U.S. election brought to many Germans. The text convinces not least with its emotional power.
The jury also praised Barbara Leidl, editor at Bayrischer Rundfunk and former U.S. correspondent, for her important feature “Unschuldig hinter Gittern,” broadcast on Bayern 2 on June 10, 2016. She deals with the difficult problem of thousands of likely innocent people who are imprisoned in the United States because they could not afford a defender, a false confession was forced, or they were not old enough or experienced enough to understand their case.
The jury decided not to award a prize for the best North American contribution this year, as the USA in particular seemed more inwardly focused in 2016.
However, the jury gave an honorable mention to Canadian reporter Dylan Robertson. In his article, "As Germany moves to right wrongs of anti-gay policies, Canada lacks plan" which was published at theglobeandmail.com on October 12, 2016, he draws parallels between the German policy of reparation for persecuted people and Canadian judicial policy.
Andrew Curry, who lives in Berlin as a freelance correspondent, was also praised for his contribution to the November edition of Rouleur Magazin about the fate of four members of the Syrian national cycling team, who want to continue cycling in German exile. “The road from Damascus” describes their journey in an impressive way.
The 2015 Arthur F. Burns Awards were presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Berlin Alumni Dinner on June 1. The awards recognize German and American or Canadian Burns alumni for an outstanding journalistic piece on the political, economic or cultural situation in the respective partner country or on the transatlantic relationship.
The 2,000 Euro prize for the best German contribution was awarded to Marie-Astrid Langer, the foreign editor at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, for her article, "Amerika sperrt seine Kinder weg [America Incarcerates Her Children]," published on Dec. 18, 2015. The jury reflected on whether Americans are really like former Europeans, who just drive larger cars and own larger refrigerators. But Langer's article reveals that Europeans observing the United States are not looking in a mirror. She lays out what makes the United States the way it is, but without condescension, judgement or indictment, and she steers clear of anti-American sentiment. She presents the facts, leaving readers to form their own opinion. Langer makes the reader reflect on a system of law without the death penalty, without life-long "life" sentences, and makes one ponder issues of guilt, repentance, punishment, justice and eternity. The subtext of Langer's article is the ancient human question of whether a society should follow the old testament of an eye for an eye, or the new testament's message of forgiveness.
The jury gave an honorable mention to Antje Windmann, an editor at Der Spiegel, for her report titled "Der amerikanische Albtraum [The American Nightmare]," which she wrote with Clemens Höges. The article appeared in the magazine edition 15/15.
The jury decided not to award a North American contribution this year.
The 2013 Arthur F. Burns Awards honored articles on a range of issues—from an openly gay boxer’s fight against homophobia, to deportation of Americans to Germany and Obama’s unsuccessful attempts to curb the gun lobby. The German Foreign Minister awards the prizes to one German and one American Burns alumni, who published an outstanding story during 2013 on a political, economic or cultural issue in the partner country or on transatlantic relations.
The 2,000-Euro prize for the best German contribution went to Amrai Coen (Burns 2013), editor at the weekly Die Zeit. Her feature story “Sie nannten ihn Ente (They called him Duck),” was published on October 17, 2013. The author accomplished a rare feat of art: through painstaking observation, detailed description and clever narrative arrangement, Coen used sports reporting to create a political text about homophobia in omni-present macho societies. Her portrait of featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico - the first boxer who publicly admitted his homosexuality - allows readers to fight alongside Cruz, share his suffering - and loss.
Two other German journalists received honorable mentions by the jury: Havertz Rieke, editor of taz – die tageszeitung, tackled the attempts by the U.S. president to force stricter laws onto the gun lobby after the massacre in Newton, Mass. She documented the failure of these efforts and the search for causes during six weeks of research in Obama’s hometown of Chicago - in form of a remarkable five-part series titled ‘The Power of Guns,’ published in late July and early August 2013. Max Holscher, volunteer at the Hessisch-Niedersächsischen Allgemeinen, spent two months in 2013 at the Miami Herald, where – in addition to writing numerous articles – he introduced readers to unique features of everyday life in the United State through his weekly column ‘News from the Miami Herald.’ In his column, Holscher wrote about meetings and discussions, sometimes ironic, always informative, sometimes thoughtful, always entertaining and amusing to the reader.
The jury awarded the 2,000-Euro prize for the best American contribution this year to Mike Giglio (alumnus 2008), for “William Suess thought he was an American, until the day he was deported,” published in October 2013 at Buzzfeed.com. The story is the result of five years of research that began during his time as Burns Fellows at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, followed by several follow-on research trips to Germany. Giglio tells the story of a man who was born German but raised in Missouri, a U.S. soldier and convicted criminal offender who was unexpectedly deported at the age of 49 due to stricter U.S. immigration laws. It’s a story of a man arriving at deportation camp in Germany, an entirely unknown land, but the land of his birth.
The 2011 Arthur F. Burns Awards honored articles on a range of issues - from surfer culture to nuclear power. The German Foreign Minister awards the prizes to one German and one American Burns alumni, who published an outstanding story during 2011 on a political, economic or cultural issue in the partner country or on transatlantic relations.
The 2,000-Euro prize for the best German contribution went to the Tageszeitung's Berlin bureau chief Gordon Repinski (Burns 2011) for 'Der Fall Irons (The Irons Case),' published in sonntaz on November 5, 2011. The story is about the short, high-octane life of surfing legend Andy Irons who, unable to handle his early stardom and the glamour of the surfer scene, died of a drug-induced heart attack at age 32. Repinski spent part of his Burns Fellowship last year in San Diego exploring the dark side of a 'much too cool world, in which the party must never end.'
Aaron Wiener (Burns 2010) won the best American contribution for 'How Germany phased out nuclear power, only to get mugged by reality,' published in The New Republic on October 31, 2011. Protecting the environment is not just a matter of politics in Germany, but also often a matter of faith. Environmental protection has become standard public policy over the past 30 years in the German Republic. But Wiener describes the unexpected and dramatic consequences of the abrupt change in energy policy by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the errors of all the parties involved - from the nuclear energy lobby to the environmental protection movement. His article is non-polemic and highly informative.
Two German journalists and one American received honorary mentions. Justus Bender (Burns 2010) was honored for his article 'Mr. President, es wird ein leichter Tag (Mr. President, it will be an easy day),' a remarkable portrait of the lives and impressions of the Florida second graders who were meeting with President George W. Bush ten years ago when the airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. The article was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung on September 4, 2011. Stephan Seiler (Burns 2010) was honored for 'Liebe zum Abgewöhnen (Weaning off love),' his moving story about evangelical Christians in Texas who try to 'heal' homosexual and bisexual youth through prayer under the motto 'pray away the gay.' His story ran in a special October edition of Max.
U.S. journalist Anton Troianovski (Burns 2011), a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, received an honorary mention for his amusing and informative story titled 'Germans face off in hairy debate over whisker doÂ´s and donÂ´ts,' published on September 23, 2011. The story is about a rift within the German community of competitive beard enthusiasts. The well researched short story about bearded men and the intricacies of their club, the Association of German Beard Clubs, offers a wonderful insight into a very German cultural phenomenon.
The jury for the Arthur F. Burns Prize was composed of journalists Sabine Christiansen, Dr. Christoph von Marschall (Tagesspiegel), Claus Strunz (Axel Springer), Stefan Kornelius (Süddeutsche Zeitung) and Dr. Dominik Wichmann (Stern), as well as Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling (ZDF) and Petra Stoeckl (Foreign Ministry of Germany).
The 2010 Burns and Kennan Award winners covered a broad range of topics - from the tragic suicide of an Iraq war veteran, to the homeschooling of German children, to the U.S. Congressional elections of 2010.
Cordula Meyer (Burns 1998), Washington correspondent for Der Spiegel, won the German Burns Award for her article 'Dämonen im Kopf (Battling the Inner Demons of War),' published on March 22, 2010. In her article, she writes about the life of U.S. army medic Joseph Dwyer, who became an iconic symbol of an American war hero when he rescued a four-year-old Iraqi boy in the midst of a battle. In her powerful article, Meyer recounts the drama that unfolded after Dwyer came to fame: his suffering and self-doubt, and the difficult transition back to civilian life. He took his own life five years after his last deployment. While focusing on the tragic story of Joe Dwyer, Meyer also raises awareness of the larger issue of suicide among U.S. veterans, which claimed more than twice as many victims in 2009 than the Iraq war itself.
Krista Kapralos (Burns 2010) won the U.S. Burns Award for ' Unsere Kinder leben in Verborgenen (Homeschoolers risk jail, thwart officials in Germany),' published on December 8, 2010, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and in abbreviated form on December 9, 2010, in religiousnews.com. Kapralos conducted extensive research during her Burns fellowship in 2010, and skillfully covers the recent and growing phenomenon of homeschooling in Germany. She discusses the variety of reasons why parents decide against enrolling their children in the public school system, the possible punishments and consequences they are willing to accept for this decision, and the different strategies parents use in order not to get caught.
The two 2,000-Euro prizes are awarded by Germany's foreign minister.
Additionally, the jury awarded one German and one American Burns alumni with honorary mentions. Christian Salewski (Burns 2010) was honored for his article 'Der China Kracher (The China Firecracker),' published in the January edition of Capital. Salewski reports on the scandal of the plaster corporation Knauf from Franken, Germany, which provided contaminated drywall from China to U.S. construction projects during the American building boom. He uncovered this example of one of the pitfalls of globalization during his Burns Fellowship in 2010. Aaron Ricadela (Burns 2003) received the mention for his feature 'SAP Co-CEOs chart a bold new course,' published on May 21, 2010, in Bloomberg Businessweek.com. In an intelligent and well-researched article, Ricadela writes about Germany's fourth largest corporation, which is managed by American and Danish leadership.
The jury also gave an honorable mention to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung correspondent Stefan Tomik (Burns 2009) for his lead article on the journalistic topic of the year, Wikileaks, which was published in the Sunday edition of his paper. The jury commended Tomik for his bold and excellently written commentary on whether the actions of Julian Assange and his group were right or wrong. While the content itself was controversial for some members of the jury, all agreed that the article deserved to be honorably mentioned for its high journalistic quality.
The jury was comprised of journalists Sabine Christiansen (TV21 Media), Dr. Christoph von Marschall (Tagesspiegel), Claus Strunz (Hamburger Abendblatt), and Dr. Dominik Wichmann (Stern), as well as Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling (ZDF) and Petra Stoeckl (Foreign Ministry of Germany).
Coverage of U.S. home foreclosure crisis wins 2009 Burns Award
by Mario Scherhaufer
The 2009 German Burns Award winner looks at resistance by stressed U.S. homeowners facing eviction, while the Kennan Commentary Award winner looks at the changed meaning and interpretation of German 'angst.'
Roman Pletter (Burns 2009), an editor at the business magazine Brand Eins, won the German Burns Award for 'Die große Landnahme (The big land grab),' published in December 2009 in Brand Eins. Subtitled 'Besuche an Orten des Widerstandes (Visiting places of resistance),' Pletter's story deals with indebted U.S. citizens who are revolting against the banks trying to evict them. The jury was impressed by the extensive research by Pletter, who covered the issue from multiple perspectives. With clear and concise language and good composition, Pletter's piece draws in the reader from beginning to end. By providing an exciting and detailed view of the resistance against bank evictions, Pletter also gave a deep portrayal of the American soul during trying economic times.
The two 2,000-Euro prizes, usually given to one German and one American alumnus or alumna, are awarded by Germany's foreign minister. Pletter received his honor from German Foreign Minister Dr. Guido Westerwelle at the annual Burns alumni dinner and lecture on June 2 in Berlin.
Despite an eventful year in Germany with Bundestagswahl (parliamentary elections), the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and other important domestic and foreign policy decisions, none of the stories received from U.S. Burns alumni was deemed worthy of the 2,000 euro prize by the selection jury.
Two American and one German Burns alumni received honorary mentions by the jury. David Francis (Burns 2009) was honored for his article 'The next page: Berlin - 20 years wall-free,' published on November 8, 2009, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The story is a very personal commentary on significant people, moments and places in Berlin's recent history. Moira Herbst (Burns 2008) received the mention for 'East Germany 20 Years after Reunification,' an overview of business and economic revival in the former East Germany published in Business Week on November 5, 2009. Herbst showcases former East German DDR brands that have successfully made the transition into the current German economy. Max von Klitzing (Burns 2004) and Freeeye TV received an honorary mention for a two-part TV documentary 'Durch die Wildnis Amerikas (Through America's wilderness),' aired on April 23 and 30, 2009, on NDR. Klitzing's remarkable 90-minute documentary on one of the great American hiking challenges - the Appalachian Trail - portrayed magnificent landscapes along with a selection of stories from people living along the 3,400 kilometer trail between Georgia and Maine.
Roman Pletter: Die große Landnahme, brandeins, Heft 1/2010 (.pdf, 3,0 MB)
The 2008 Burns Award winners focus on the hopes of the African-American civil rights movement with Barack Obama's historic election; on Germany's struggle with releasing Stasi police secrets; and on an American identity crisis displayed in its new embassy building in Berlin.
Gregor Peter Schmitz (Burns 1997), Washington correspondent for Der Spiegel, won the German Burns Award for "Obama's Traum (Obama's Dream)," published in the October 2008 Spiegel Special USA issue. Schmitz focused on a central theme of last year's U.S. presidential election: the African-American civil rights movement. In his article, Schmitz discusses the hopes of black civil rights activists and their role in the election of Barack Obama. But Schmitz also strikingly explains the disappointment of some within the movement, like Jesse Jackson, who was only a minor feature in Obama's campaign. This inconsistency is described vividly and extensively by the author, whose in-depth research impressed the jury.
Andrew Curry (Burns 2003), who currently freelances from Berlin, won the U.S. Burns Award for "Piecing together the dark legacy of East Germany's secret police," published in the February 2008 edition of Wired magazine. Considering that Curry's article on Germany's Stasi past is a marginal issue for U.S. readers, the fact that the magazine printed this considerably long story in its entirety is impressive. This is due to Curry's dramatic writing, which artfully explains the tedious puzzle work of regenerating the Stasi files, while relating the personal story of an employee of the agency in charge of the files. The jury felt that Curry covered this difficult topic in an entertaining and captivating way without losing focus on the story's depth or significance.
The two 2,000-Euro prizes are awarded by Germany's Foreign Minister. Both Curry and Schmitz received their honors at the annual Burns alumni dinner and lecture on June 4 in Berlin.
In addition, two German and one American Burns alumni received honorary mentions by the jury. Silvia Feist (Burns 2000) was honored for her article "Der nächste Einsatz (The Next Deployment)," published in the August edition of Germany's Emotion magazine. The story covered two American soldiers who lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan; and subsequently competed at the Paralympics in Beijing. Peter Wagner (Burns 2007) received the mention for "Meine Jagd nach dem Autogramm von Obama (My Quest for the Autograph of Obama)," a humorous piece that ran on jetzt.de, the youth page of Süddeutsche Zeitung, on October 27, 2008. Michael Giglio (Burns 2008) received an honorary mention for "Americans Deported to Frankfurt," a rarely covered story about the fate of Americans stranded in Germany, which ran in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung during his fellowship there last summer.
The Arthur F. Burns Award 2007 for the best German article goes to Michael Weißenborn, editor at Stuttgarter Zeitung, for his series 'Texas Privat' which was published in autumn and winter 2007. Weißenborn covers as disparate themes as the private purchase of weapons, Indian reservations, the problems evolving around the frontier to Mexico and typically American Christmas celebrations. His articles are far more than simple representations of contemporary life in America. They are brilliant essays with a strong sense for personal commitment that offer some profound analysis of US society, its deeply-rooted traditions and recent challenges.
The award for the best American contribution in 2007 goes to James Hagengruber who has worked for the daily newspaper Spokesman Review in Spokane, Washington, until very recently. His reportage 'Boom! Du bist tot!' (Boom! You are dead!) was published in Süddeutsche Zeitung on 6th November 2007 as well as in Spokesman Review. He accompanied a couple of 19-year-old twin brothers from Idaho on their way to become US-marines. Thanks to his clear-cut style and an ample body of research, Hagengruber brings across the causes of young Americans' fascination for the war in Iraq. He carefully avoids quoting common stereotypes of popular opinion about this issue, but gives a sensitive and impressive portrayal of two American adolescents at the crossroads. Hagengruber has recently continued his journalistic work about the twins and has joined them during their participation in military campaigns in Kuwait and Iraq.
Both awards are endowed with price money of 2000 â‚¬.
The members of the jury want to express their special appreciation to Christian Rüttger (Reuters, Berlin) for his article 'The Long Haul' which was published in Anchorage Daily News on 14th October 2007, and to Tanya Schevitz (San Francisco Chronicle) whose series 'Eine Amerikanerin im Allgäu' (An American in the Allgaeu) was published weekly during August and September 2007 in Allgäuer Zeitung. While Rüttger explores the dangers and temptations that truck drivers have to face during their 414-mile ride along Dalton Highway in the depths of the Alaskan tundra, Schevitz, an urban single, mother of a child and passionate car driver, describes her various impressions of life in the rural widths of the Allgaeu. The contributions of both authors, who were non-locals and could thus write more frankly and unbiasedly about regional traditions and taboos, raised lively public debate among their readers who were expressing their opinions in numerous letters and e-mails to the editor.
Downloads (in German language):
Jacob Heilbrunn's article series "Texas Privat" (20 Artikel) (.pdf, 4,3 MB),
Wochenendbeilage of Stuttgarter Zeitung
Article "Boom! Du bist tot!" vom James Hagengruber (.pdf, 0,15k)
published at www.jetzt.de (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Article series "Eine Amerikanerin im Allgäu" von Tanya Schevitz (.pdf, 1,4 MB)
published in Allgäuer Zeitung
Dr. Markus Günther, correspondent in Washington, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, won the Arthur F. Burns Prize for the best German article in 2006. He received the Euro 2,000 prize for "Kriege ohne Sieger" ("Wars without Victors"), published on August 8, 2006. In his article Günther warns military superior nations not to underestimate the risk of quick military success.
Dr. Ranty Islam, German journalist, Deutsche Welle, and Crista Case, American journalist, Christian Science Monitor, received an honorable mention for their three-part article series on the development of the hothouse debate and the emission problems on both sides of the Atlantic, published on August 9, 2006 on "Spiegel Online".
The jury decided not to award the Arthur F. Burns Prize for the best American article this year.
The award winners of the years before 2006 are: