Hostwriter is best known for its inclusive network that facilitates journalistic collaboration, connections and sharing opportunities. Founded in 2014, it currently connects 5,500+ reporters from over 150 countries.
The organization has big plans for spring 2021, when it will launch a global newsroom. It’s focus? “Unbiasing the news” and advancing a diversity of voices in global journalism.
The Fix asked Tina Lee, who leads the editorial team of the new project, about their plans and how Hostwriter hopes to further develop the community-driven journalism model.
[Editor’s note – the interview was carried out over email]
Bringing “multi-perspective” reporting to “unbias the news”
Despite years of talk about diversity, media leadership in most countries is still dominated by privileged groups – whether its white and male US newsroom management or Indian publications run by upper castes. This is precisely the problem Hostwriter hopes to reverse.
“The largest migrant communities in Germany have no representation among editors-in-chief at leading news outlets,” the project’s announcement reminds.
The problem also has a global dimension, according to Lee. “[I]nternational journalism has been dominated by white, male, Western voices, which makes it challenging to capture the authenticity of experiences, aspirations and concerns of a diverse but networked audience,” she told The Fix.
In other words, diversity isn’t just some moral issue – it’s a tool to create high-quality, relevant journalism.
The theme of Hostwriter’s reporting will be broad – the most important goal is to erase “tired narratives about crime, poverty, and national identity that drive clicks but also amplify racist and xenophobic stereotypes,” the editor shared her plans.
In an announcement of the project’s launch, Hostwriter published results of a survey asking about the bilnd spots its community considers to be the most concerning.
By far, the two leaders are exoticism/ colonial mindset and Western bias/ simplification. Sexism and racism in reporting also loomed large among recognized problems.
More from The Fix: Discrimination isn’t just a US problem – an interview with Hostwriter’s Tina Lee
A wide pool of reporters working for a remote newsroom
Hostwriter’s newsroom will operate remotely — as Journalism.co.uk points out, setting up an office in Berlin (Hostwriter’s base of operations) or another physical location would limit it to a specific European perspective. The organisation plans to tap into its vast global network of journalists and utilise partnerships.
In addition, Hostwriter will have “a team of six experienced international editors bringing together different regional and thematic expertise to guide what stories we want to tell and how we want to tell them,” Lee says.
According to Journalism.co.uk, the initiative will initially be powered by 250,000 Euros in philanthropic funding. However, Hostwriter is seeking to grow the newsroom and diversify its revenue streams; Lee calls finding diverse sources of income “a key challenge” for 2021.
Hostwriter will launch a membership model, Lee told The Fix. Other options include “syndication and publication partnerships, events, and other exclusive content”. Partnering with creators and other organisations is also among Hostwriter’s plans.
Focus on the bigger picture
Non-privileged voices remain underrepresented in the media. But there is a growing recognition of this problem, both inside and outside the industry. This has led to the creation of innovative newsrooms focusing on emphasizing a diversity of voices.
2020 saw launches of “Rest of the World,” which reports on non-Western tech stories, and “The 19th*,” a nonprofit publication devoted to women and politics in the US context. Increased recognition of racial inequality is also a factor behind the growth of minority-led newsrooms.
In this sense, Hostwriter is part of a larger trend – an assumption Lee is glad to underline.
Hostwriter does, however, plan to have a distinct model that will differentiate it from other newsrooms. Lee believes that Hostwriter’s “collaborative selection and commission process will set [it] apart from other newsrooms out there.”
Topics covered (or the roster of reporters) will not be limited to a specific country or region. Having a network of over 5,500 reporters from across the world is not a bad place to start.
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