Bettina Meier


An original Berliner who grew up in East Berlin, Bettina Meier experienced the Fall of the Berlin Wall when she was nine years old.  She grow up in East Berlin and after 1989 in the United Germany. She received a degree in business studies and Journalism at the University of Leipzig before heading to the U.S. for the first time.

Meier was a Fulbright Scholar studying Journalism and Public Affairs at American University in Washington D.C. While there, she worked for the BBC, NPR and C-Span in D.C. as a freelance journalist.

Upon returning to Germany in 2007, she started reporting about the Financial crisis and the European Euro crisis for German Public Radio & TV working for Berlin's biggest news radio RBB INFOradio and the ARD Parliamentary News Department covering the German Parliament.

Now once she's once again back in the U.S. for two months in Austin on the Arthur Burns Fellowship for journalists. She'll be covering Europe's financial problems and topics that matter to people in Austin and the State of Texas.

Laura Rice, KUT News

Austin economist Jon Hockenyos says bringing a medical school and teaching hospital to Austin could add about 15,000 permanent jobs to the community.

Hockenyos says nearly 7,000 of those jobs would be directly connected with the medical facility and research. The other 8,000 or so would be indirectly created.

“The impact of this facility and the operation of this entire complex is going to create ripple effects through the whole community and so we’ll raise the overall level of economic activity here and that will in turn create opportunities in restaurants and dry cleaners and for people supplying things to the medical complex – all those different, related, ancillary activities will then, in turn, have to hire workers,” Hockenyos says.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

When it is still dark outside you can hear the city’s sweeping and flushing trucks cleaning the downtown streets from gum, trash or even urine that lingers on the streets from the night before. Often you can hear water flushing on the streets and you wonder: Isn’t there a water restriction?

Recent rains might make you think otherwise, but the city of Austin is still in "moderate drought." That's why we are currently under Stage I watering restrictions. But When it comes to cleaning the streets of downtown Austin, the rules do not apply to the city itself, says Jill Mayfield, spokesperson from the Austin Water Utility Department.

“There is an exemption for water that’s used to protect health, safety or welfare for the public," Mayfield explained. "One example is street cleaning. We have so much pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic, that it is important to keep our streets clean and healthy."

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Bettina Meier will spend the next two months in Austin as part of the Arthur Burns Fellowship. The program sends American reporters to Germany and German reporters to the United States.

This is KUT's second Burns Fellow to visit. The previous German visitor, Nichole Markwald, told Meier she should go to Austin and work at KUT. While trying to find a place to live, she stumbled across a connection between Austin and her home in Berlin.

My biggest problem before coming here was finding a place to live. So I stumbled over the issue of short-term rentals in Austin. I found that renting a place for longer than 30 days is more accepted, so I ended up renting a garage apartment from an Austin-native outside the downtown area.

Short-term rentals in Berlin have been an ongoing problem, particularly in my district -- close to the Brandenburg Gate -- where hotel prices rise during the summer. The problem became pronounced when tourists started renting out apartments in central residential areas, especially in the former eastern part of Berlin, where people live in large concrete apartment buildings.

Your neighbors are just a doorstep away and you can hear everything going on around you. Once, the police pulled 32 people out of a two-bedroom apartment where a party was going on. This is not uncommon and parties in Berlin usually start around midnight and can last until the early morning, even during the workweek.

How to solve a problem like that in a city whose popularity is growing and is trying to remain friendly to tourists? While Austin's City Council is struggling to find a solution, it might consider looking to Berlin for answers.