Whenever the topic of conversation turns to young, up-and-coming journalists and we have many of those in the province right now I am often asked this question: Whatever happened to Christina Marshall?
I first wrote back in 2007 about Christinas talent as a lively, engaging journalist. Eighteen months later, she bid us a touching farewell, posting a live comment to this blog literally as the ferry was leaving the wharf.
Christina went to work as a video-journalist at CTVs station in Sarnia, Ontario. However, she was laid off from that position in August of 2009, because of recessionary cuts. I hadnt heard from her since then, so, this week, fired off a note to see what shes been up to.
I received a reply almost immediately all the way from Gutersloh, Germany, where Christinas fianc, David Jeenes, a soldier, is based. And, as usual, there is never a dull moment in the life of Christina Marshall.
Its beautiful here. Germans are so efficient with everyday things, and they are so focused on environmental upkeep, Christina said. The bike paths are packed more than the roads, and the recycling system is far superior to anything I have experienced in various parts of Canada.
Using Germany as her home base, Christina and David have been exploring various other locations in Europe.
Paris is amazing. I think it is one of the most vibrantly romantic cities in the world. Belgium is brilliant... The UK reminds me of Newfoundland, especially the row housing... but they call it terrace housing. I have now been to Stonehenge - which was beautiful except they charge you a lot of money to get up close. I have marveled at the Roman influence in Bath, UK and have crawled deep into the caves of South Wales. This weekend we are heading to the Moselle Valley in Germany, the wine region where the Rhine meets the Moselle river, and next weekend it is off to Bavaria. Oh, and I had an in-depth history lesson about WWII at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. The Germans are very up front about WWII, and have set up museum-like displays at the camps. They don't hide anything. Did you know if you mockingly made the Nazi hand gesture here you will be arrested?
A trip to Crete was cancelled, after a 32-hour wait at Gatwick airport, because of the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland.
Although busy making wedding plans, Christina admits to feeling restless at times.
I am not working and its killing me. However, I have been using the time to paint, read and bake. I have learned how to bake from scratch numerous cakes and squares... I am now inventing my own recipes. Dave then takes them with him to work and the soldiers buy the cakes. I make anywhere from 20 to 40 Euro for a single pan.... the profit margin is 200 percent! I am also using this time to rediscover me... I have become my own best friend and I like it. Being here in Germany is teaching me a lot about the things I love and miss in Canada. Its great to see the world but home will always be home to me. I have become very patriotic and pump up Canada to everyone I know. I have met a couple of Canadians too. There seems to be an instant connection when our nationality is mentioned.
Christina says she doesnt really fit in with her current domestic lifestyle, but says its only a few years before her husband-to-be retires from the army, and they move back to Canada. In the meantime, shes been paying close attention to the news media in Germany.
One interesting thing is the celebrity of news personalities. In the UK, if you are on the tube as a reporter or news anchor you are super famous! Its odd. Whenever I told my Brit friends that I was a videojournalist in Newfoundland and Ontario, they were in awe. Many would say, So, you are famous in Canada? I always laugh when I hear that... Either way, in the UK if you are a reporter or personality on radio or TV, you are famous across the country. The divide between local news and national is not so large.
Christina has also made friends with a woman named Ina, who is an assignment editor and producer with a local television station.
She has taken me on a tour of the studio where she works. The station is small in comparison to CBC NL, but has the same basics of most stations Ive seen. The difference is the age of the staff. The local news in Dortmund has a staff of maybe 20 to 30 people... all well under the age of 40. I was in shock when I met the news director, who looks younger than me. Ina is second in command, and she is 27. The main host is under 25. The reporters are mostly in their 20's. The technical staff is pretty much all under 35 years of age. The newscast itself is young, vibrant and fun. They take time to do feature pieces over a couple of days, whilst still creating daily, to the minute news like we are accustomed to in Canada. From what I have seen, the technical aspects are good.
It is not, however, a place for reporters who love to hog the spotlight.
Another difference is the lack of reporter stand-ups in the local Dortmund newscast. There aren't any no middle standup, no opening stand up, no ending standup. You never really knew what the reporter looked like or who was on air. Im told that its rare to see the reporter in a formal, I am so-and-so for such-and-such a newscast in whatever city. They just don't show the reporters like we do in Canada.
Christina also notes the proliferation of 24-hour news channels, and the more worldly feel of their content
Back in Canada we have CBC News Network, CTV Newsnet, CNN and BBC World.... but here there are so many more 24 hour news channels at my disposal - off the top of my head I can think of Skynews, a non-hardcore USA version of CNN International, Al Jazeera, ABC International and of course there is BBC World. Many of these 24 hour news channels focus on the World and not just the countries that the stations are based in. Its interesting to learn about African issues while living in Germany, or see the worldwide weather forecast every few minutes. Al Jazeera International is candid, upfront and non-censoring in many aspects, ABC International has some interesting debates about world issues, CNN International is not like the over-the-top flashy CNN back home. I find them informative and easy to watch more so than the CBC or CTV news channels.
Christina met her fianc in Gander in 2007, while on a night out with her CBC colleagues. David was on a stopover, en route to the British Army base in Medicine Hat, Alberta. They were friends for two years before she realized the attraction went much deeper.
I am now on a work visa and will be returning to Canada in late July, just before my back yard wedding in Eden Mills, Christina said. I started to write a book last week; kind of like a documentary of my life to pass on to my family one day, when I have kids... eventually, that is.