InPerspective: How did you come up with the idea for hostwriter?
Felix: Tabea (Co-Founder) worked on a story in Lebanon while couchsurfing at a colleague’s place. There she thought: ‘Wow this is amazing: While doing research trips you can easily stay with fellow colleagues, that way you get a much better insight! Plus: When freelancing a lot of journalists lack financial resources – so you can help each other out.’ When Tamara (Co-Founder) was working on the textile factory collapse in Bangladesh, she was looking for an interviewee. That was when she realized: ‘I do not know any journalists who are close by. I have no clue how I could contact somebody from Bangladesh. How come there is no journalists network, where you can ask somebody for help in these cases?’ That’s how the idea of hostwriter developed.
Kate: I was doing research for a documentary and I needed to find out about migrants living illegally in Beijing but did not know anyone living there. Through hostwriter I got in touch with two journalists in Beijing, who – within a day – put me in touch with illegal migrants in Beijing.
Felix, you mentioned you worked as an ambassador? How does that look like?
Felix: We have ambassadors in many different countries. People who are excited about the prospect of collaborate journalism, of an international network of journalists, who assist each other, because the world has become ever more global and journalism has to follow suit. And these people, the ambassadors, support that: ‘If you need advice in Saint Petersburg, in Lebanon...I am here. Come and speak to me, I am happy to help.‘ So they are exemplary members, who will definitely give you an answer when you write to them.
Can every journalist be part of hostwriter?
Kate: Every journalist, journalistic blogger, photojournalist, documentary filmmaker...To be a part of it you have to have some kind of journalistic experience. That is the requirement for signing up. Providing at least one working sample is a sort of precondition to work with us.
Is hostwriter for free?
Kate: It is for free. It is non-profit and it will definitely always be free for journalists. That is one of the core founding ideas.
Does everyone have to speak English?
Kate: No, you don’t have to speak English. The working language of the site is English, because that seemed to be the most universal language. The long-term plan is to have the site in lots of different languages.
Why do you think that it is important to connect journalists worldwide?
Felix: Our world is so much more global than it was 20 years ago. So we think journalism has to become more global and – with less money in journalism – that can only work with a different approach – such as our collaboration amongst journalists.
Kate: I also think that it is a really nice reaction against more entrenched nationalism in certain places to actually say, that it is really easy to get in touch with somebody else and spread the breadth of your story and include another perspective. It is similar to InPerspective’s idea!
How shall journalism look like in future?
Felix: More global. More collaborative. (laughs) And still unbending.
What do InPerspective and hostwriter have in common? Why should we work together?
Kate: I think we have a lot of things in common, both in terms of our vision and organizational form. We want to provide different perspectives to as many people as possible. To achieve this, we believe it is indispensable to overcome language barriers as well as nationally confined media landscapes.
Hostwriter and InPerspective work together in the sense that hostwriter helps connecting journalists across borders, cultures and organizations. InPerspective sets in afterwards – through publishing their stories and by translating the articles into as many languages as possible – thereby making them available to a global audience.
hostwriter is a non-profit network connecting journalists around the world. As a member of hostwriter you can find colleagues for collaboration, advice or even a couch to stay on. You're journalist and want to be part of hostwriter? Just register here: www.hostwriter.org