Why Hostwriter is Launching a Cross-Border Newsroom

By Tabea Grzeszyk, CEO and publisher

Diversity isn’t a moral case. Let’s talk about quality journalism.

Illustration: Moshtari Hilal for Hostwriter, “Unbias the News. Why diversity matters for journalism”

We asked ourselves: What’s our biggest asset at Hostwriter? What are we  most fond of and how can we genuinely contribute to positive change in  the field of journalism?

This is what we came up with:

Community-driven journalism

We want this newsroom to reflect our mission to “Unbias the News,” making  sure the global community of Hostwriter members have a say in how the  project is shaped, rather than us — a predominantly white, Western team  of journalists based in Berlin — calling out the relevant decisions. As a  starting point, we will establish an editorial board with colleagues  from different continents to ensure a diverse, global outlook for story  selection and commissioning. To get a better grip on the next steps, we  reached out to our network with a community survey and asked for input.

Over the course of a weekend, 165 members, newsletter  subscribers and social media followers participated in our community  survey that ran between Friday, 30 October and Monday, 2 November. We  soon closed it at almost 200 respondents to make sure we had the  capacity to make sense of the data (first lesson learned: open text  fields allow maximum freedom to respondents, but they take a lot of time  to analyze!).

This is what we learned from our community:

  • The Hostwriter community deeply cares about many different global movements. With 17% each, Black Lives Matter and movements against press censorship were mentioned the most, followed by #MeToo (15%).

This is how two respondents put it:

Do I really  have to choose? I would say all of them, but if I think about movements  that I actually participated in: Black Lives Matter, press censorship,  failing migrant policy (Moria) and Climate March.” / “If a movement is  intersectional, I’m on their side :)

2. When asked about which blind spots or stereotypes in journalism have  bothered them, if any — 28% of respondents shared stories that referred  to a “Exoticism/colonial mindset,” followed by stories that mentioned  “Western bias/simplification” (22%).

“Colonialism and  Western-centrism. For example, I remember the media coverage of India  making homosexuality legal being all about how ‘India reached the  Western standards’, ‘India moving into the 1st world’ and stuff like  that, while the former law that made homosexuality illegal was a  colonial law imposed by England.”“Innovation in the news  and media sector doesn’t come from Silicon Valley but from Asia and  Africa where a new generation of news consumers demands to be  facilitated with trustworthy information.”

3. In terms of underrepresented perspectives, the Hostwriter community is most interested in female journalists (90  respondents), journalists from ethnic minorities (83 respondents) and  journalists based in the Global South (76 respondents).

We are excited to develop this project together with our community, by becoming a member you support our quest!

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