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From DC to Germany: Studying Fake News and Press Freedom in Europe

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Melissa Yeager

American University School of Communication (AU SOC) alum Melissa Yeager is building on the work from her master’s capstone project, which focuses on disinformation and fake news, overseas as a Robert Bosch fellow working in Germany.

The fellowship program lasts 11 months and brings mid-career professionals from the United States to Germany to learn German and work at German institutions and pursue research on a transatlantic topic. Yeager’s topic is the intersection of fake news/disinformation and technology – and its impact on press freedom.

Before leaving for Germany, Yeager spent two months attending a language school in DC to start learning German. When she arrived in Berlin in July, she spent her first nine weeks taking additional language classes. Her first placement or “stage” was with the German nonprofit newsroom, Correctiv. She is now working with Reporters Ohne Grenzen (Reporters Without Borders) on drafting policy recommendations on the issue of fake news and social media platforms that protect press freedom.

Yeager is a 2017 graduate of AU's International Media MA program*. She credits her time as a student in the International Media program for giving her the opportunity to take part in this fellowship program and made her competitive for the program. She also credits the classes that she took in helping her land this fellowship.

“I know many of the projects I completed in Ambassador (Anthony) Quainton’s class prepared me for the interview process,” Yeager said. “Professor (John Robert) Kelly’s Public Diplomacy class also helped me realize the importance of citizen diplomats…and how I might be perceived as such during my time here in Germany.”

*The International Media MA has since been renamed the Global Media MA.