Partner story

Hostwriter: Empowering the trailblazers telling untold stories through collaborative, cross-border journalism

By Nkirote Koome

As our world has become more interconnected and fluid, so has journalism. Increasingly, newsrooms are using collaborative approaches to widen their reach and scope while deepening their content. Collaborative journalism is now the way to share data, expertise, and digital tools, and to stretch resources. It is a response to the disruption of traditional business models. Collaborative journalism has enabled journalists to tackle large complex stories that cross borders and impact multiple communities. In investigative journalism, collaborative and cross border journalism has become a mainstay to ensure its viability and sustainability.  

However, the collaborative cross-border model is not accessible to all journalists. Large media houses hold the firepower, networks, and reach to report on stories that cross geographies. Because of their scale, they dictate the content and shape the stories that are told, thereby controlling the narrative. The rush by large media houses to control and dominate the narrative has left a void in reporting stories from under-represented communities and regions.

In 2013, three female journalists challenged the status quo.  In their quest to build a more collaborative model of journalism that is diverse in content and contributors, they set up Hostwriter. This open network facilitates journalists’ collaboration across borders. Hostwriter works to amplify and disseminate perspectives from journalists who are disadvantaged based on their ethnic origin, gender, disability, class, age, religion, or geographical location. Building on the lessons learned from their pilot publication, Unbias the News: Why diversity matters for journalism, Hostwriter launched a remote newsroom - Unbias the News - to showcase underreported stories from underrepresented groups with global relevance.  Building a robust newsroom centered on a culture of collaboration, inclusivity, equity, and journalistic rigor is a top priority for Unbias the News.

Hostwriter facilitates journalists’ collaboration across borders and works to amplify and disseminate perspectives from journalists who are disadvantaged based on their ethnic origin, gender, disability, class, age, religion, or geographical location.

To support this forward-thinking approach, Luminate is pleased to award Hostwriter a grant of $100,000 to support the editorial team. The grant will help them to select and commission stories with cross-border relevance that challenge stereotypes and are told by local journalists based in the affected communities. This will include launching an open call for story pitches that are cross-border, complex, narrative-oriented, challenging social norms and dominant narratives, and nuanced in their perspectives. The grant will also support free digital journalism training and peer-to-peer networking for all applicants, regardless of whether their story pitch was accepted. Additionally, the grant will support the Hostwriter team in developing and exploring revenue models to strengthen their financial sustainability.

Support for this grant is anchored in Luminate’s goals of increasing diversity and transparency in media entities to reflect the communities they serve and improving trust in high-quality independent media to ensure people are better informed. We are excited to see the impact of Hostwriter’s open call to create new spaces for journalists and other forms of content creators in different regions around the world.  We look forward to learning alongside Hostwriter as they set up a decentralized newsroom model to unearth and syndicate underrepresented stories.