Three take-aways, comparing my inner German with my fellows.
So, there it was, week 1 of my CUNY-program in Entrepreneurial Journalism in New York. German friends and readers know how eager I was to join the program and move to the city. What happened so far not only exceeded my expectations – it also evoked many feelings in the first days that took me by surprise.
First of all, starting every second sentence with „In Germany…“ seems to be my shtick, but I consider it also a sign of something deeper. Being in a program with 15 new people, half of them having international backgrounds, obviously confronts me with myself and my origins. Apart from being mocked for being on time and using nice German words like „Kirschsteinweitspuckmeisterschaften“, I also had to think a lot about the cultural differences, especially within the media industry.
Three of them I’d like to share and keep in mind for the future:
– Be positive. When I started to study for my Journalism-diploma at my German university, the lecturer at the introduction course went back and forth for a terribly long time about the difficulties of the job. It was awful. In the whole first week of TowKnight I didn’t hear anybody using the word „fear“ or „afraid“. Maybe it’s not the time yet, but this week felt good without worrying too much. And it seems like a way better approach to new things.
– Be humble. The biographies of my fellow fellows are amazing and include successful projects, lives lived in many countries and work for some of the best companies in the world. I was impressed that none of this came across as bragging and I just thought that it wouldn’t be like that in Germany. Usually, even after minor accomplishments in finding new ways in journalism, people tend to become very proud about it publicly. And: Even during the fellow’s introductions, nobody seemed to be afraid (there, afraid, I said it, program’s over…) to admit failures and ways that didn’t turn out well. This also looks to me like a strong sign of humility – or maybe they’re all heroes of effective and manipulative self-portrayal.
– Be yourself. Not all the stories we heard during the introductions where success-stories. Start-ups failed, career-steps didn’t turn out the way they were planned. Looking at the notes I took during everybody’s introduction, I was amazed how often I put down one comment: „has a strong sense of who he is as a person“ (or „she“, it’s 9-6 female, actually). Many didn’t hold on to the presumably safe job at a magazine but instead started listening to their voices within in order to make better decisions in the future. Right now, it seems as if this sense of „try to find the rules you yourself feel most comfortable with“ will be valuable, once we dive deeper into the questions of how to „properly“ build our projects. There won’t be the „proper“ way, I’m sure.
This posting ist part of the Tow-Knight-Program in Entrepreneurial Journalism of which I’m one of 15 fellows in 2014. Every fellow starts his or her own startup-project and we are encouraged to reflect publicly on the experience once a week. Find more thoughts of mine about the program and the differences between the eco-systems in media and culture at the German-language blog carta.info.
Dieses Posting ist Teil des Tow-Knight-Studienprogramms in Entrepreneurial Journalism, an dem ich mit 14 anderen Studenten im ersten Halbjahr 2014 in New York teilnehme. Jeder Fellow startet während des Programms sein eigenes Start-up im Journalismus. Einmal wöchentlich sollen die Teilnehmer über ihre Erfahrungen bloggen. Noch mehr deutschsprachige Betrachtungen zum Programm darf ich von Zeit zu Zeit bei carta.info schreiben.