Federal Foreign Office awards German-US prize for journalists

04.06.2009 - Press release

On behalf of Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Coordinator of German-American Cooperation, Karsten D. Voigt, will this evening (4 June 2009) present in Berlin this year's winners of the Arthur F. Burns Prize for journalists.

The Arthur F. Burns Prize was established in 1994 by the Federal Foreign Office and the Board of Trustees of the International Journalists' Programmes e.V. (IJP), and is awarded annually to one German and one American alumnus of the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship Programme for outstanding reporting on political, economic or social issues in the other country or on German-American relations. In addition the IJP Board of Trustees annually confers the George F. Kennan Commentary Award for the best German commentary on transatlantic issues. Both awards are endowed with 2000 euro.

This year's Burns Prize winners are Dr Gregor Peter Schmitz on the German side and Andrew Curry on the US side.

Dr Schmitz, Spiegel magazine's Washington correspondent, won the award for his article entitled “Obamas Traum” (“Obama's Dream”), published in the Spiegel's special edition on the USA in October 2008. In that article Schmitz describes in detail not only the hopes black civil-rights activists place in the election of an Afro-American, Barack Obama, as President, but also the disappointment felt by those who thought his campaign failed to take up their cause. Schmitz's article therefore successfully reflects the contradictory nature of the first Afro-American US President's victory.

The US journalist Andrew Curry receives the award for his article entitled “Piecing together the dark legacy of East Germany's secret police”, which appeared in the February edition of “Wired”. In his article he discusses Germany's attempts to come to terms with the Stasi past, deftly linking the tedious and time-consuming work needed to reconstruct the Stasi files with the personal fate of one of the staff members. He thus makes this difficult theme accessible, in an entertaining way, but without robbing it of its gravity.

This year's winner of the George F. Kennan Commentary Award is Dr Niklas Maak, head of the arts section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Berlin. In his commentary, “Die Botschaft der Botschaft” (“The Embassy's Message”), published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition on 20 April 2008, he describes the USA's global political stance and its identity problems in the form of a classical architectural critique.

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