He was also the Moscow correspondent for German television….
Andre Zalbertus is someone you should get to know.
Andre first and foremost was a television journalist. The he got into producing. He was the first person in Germany to really understand the VJ Revolution and its ramifications, and in so doing, he has built a media empire around it.
The International Herald Tribune recently ran an article about Zalbertus and his success in Germany.
When I first met him in 1999, he owned a small television production company in Koln, Germany, and he was producing a few small shows for German television. Zalbertus and I ran the first VJ bootcamp in Germany in 2000, and soon he had introduced the VJ production paradigm to German television.
His ability to deliver high quality at low cost led to an output deal with RTL, the largest commercial channel in Germany, turning his small production company into one of the biggest producers of non-fiction in Germany.
In 2003 Zalbertus bought a small ailing local television station, CenterTV and converted it to a mix of the VJ model and ‘citizen journalism’. He has turned it into a massive success. So much so that he is now reproducing the model across Germany and beginning to license it around the world.
There has been much discussion about the ‘value’ and the viability of the ‘VJ’ approach both for local news and for producing longer form television programs. Lately, the model has met with very stiff resistance in the United States, for what I think are a number of reasons.
Some of them have to do with the different histories of the the way in which US and European broadcasting got started.
There is a different DNA when it comes to adapting new technologies.
In 1989 I paid a visit to Moscow for business.
Moscow in those days was still part of the Soviet Union, but it was close to the end. Gorbachev had just introduced Glasnost, and people were beginning, very slowly to open up.
This had never happened before. Up until now it had been strictly forbidden for westerners to make any kind of social contact with Soviet citizens. It is perhaps hard today for us to realize just how repressive these societies were.
In any event, I made the acquaintance of a woman who ran an art gallery, one of the first, in Moscow.
Now, Moscow 1989 was more like a city that had been frozen in 1932. For those unfamiliar with Soviet Technology, the phones were massive bakelite affairs that rarely worked. Television sets routinely exploded and caught fire. Light switches looked like the execution switch on the electric chair at Sing Sing. In short, it was a weird place.
In any event, this very nice woman offered me a drink, and we sat in her gallery, and with a great deal of bravery, really, she began to talk politics – something that had been completely forbidden only a few months earlier.
“Well”, she said, pouring herself another drink, “we know we have some problems.. but after all, we are still the technologically advanced country in the world…”
I looked around the room, which looked like a museum on the old GE “Carousel of Progress”- circa 1932.”Well….not exactly” was the best I could manage.
Now we come to Germany and Herr Zalbertus.
The Europeans embrace this new technology and make it work…
We are frozen around 1972…..
Even if we are the most technologically advanced country in the world…..