DW trainees wanted to know how the euro crisis is affecting young Europeans. Ten trainees travelled to five European countries to find out - and won two awards for their efforts.
So much has been written about the euro crisis, but as DW trainees we wanted to take a different, journalistic approach. While trying to come up with an angle we realized we didn't know how young people in other European countries were reacting to the crisis. We did some intensive research and set about designing a multi-media project.
We decided to split into teams of two and travel to five crisis-ridden European countries to find unusual, anti-crisis projects. We wanted to know whether young Europeans had a "Plan B" for dealing with a situation that is threatening - and at times crushing - the plans they originally had for the future.
Time to put our backpacks on?
We could already see ourselves on the road, loaded with cameras and backpacks, when we realized we couldn't just set off. Instead we needed to plan things so that we would all return with material that would work well together without being repetitive.
We held late-night brainstorming sessions on the way to do the street interviews, on the questions we'd ask, the number of photos we needed for the photo galleries, where we could get the reflex cameras we didn't have and - well, and when would José from Madrid finally answer his phone and confirm our shooting date? Basically, we catapulted ourselves from research mode into a crash course on project management.
When it was all set up, we did put our backpacks on and hit the road. In our teams of two we spent ten days either in Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain or Portugal. In Madrid we found young people who had set up a project with old bicycles. In the Irish town of Clonakilty we discovered a "favor exchange" where people were trading services, and banking time instead of money.
Multimedia portraits from Europe
We had to dive wholeheartedly into the stories to get the best ones - at times with unwanted side effects. One reporter sat in an Italian light plane not knowing it would be doing loops; another got to know a hospital from the inside - as a patient.
When we got back, we spent a month doing intensive editing. The result? A website with multi-media portraits of young people dealing with the crisis their own way. The website offers "on the road with Angela Merkel" street interviews, "postcards to the future", street art photo galleries, and crisis sound tracks.
We were happy with the outcome but didn't know if others would be as enthusiastic as we were. So we entered the project in the "Jugendkarlspreis" competition and - partly for fun - submitted it for the Grimme Online Award, Germany's top prize for online journalism. We didn't expect to win.
But we did - and not just the national "Jugendkarlspreis" prize but the Grimme Online Award's "Knowledge and Education" category as well! Our website was chosen from among 1,600 entries. We were overwhelmed, overjoyed, and very proud.
We are glad we did the project - not just because of the awards we won or the experience we gained as reporters, but because "Plan B" really brought us together. We're no longer just a mixed group of trainees but a real team for the long haul.