Hostwriter supports trainee programme for journalists in exile and journalists of colour organised by our partner organisation Neue deutsche Medienmacher

The journalist network Neue deutsche Medienmacher (NDM) organises a traineeship with the goal of diversifying the German media landscape. Hostwriter supports the project as a partner. Apply for the trainee scheme by May 30th. You can find more information on the website of Neue deutsche Medienmacher

The new Neue deutsche Medienmacher (NDM) training programme is directed at young German journalists with immigrant backgrounds and exiled journalists. The 18 month training programme will help 50 candidates – 25 young journalists and 25 exiled journalists – to gain access to major German media houses. During the 18 month course, each trainee will receive professional guidance by a mentor or a tandem partner. Whilst the programme aims at benefiting both the candidates and the participating media partners, the objective is to qualify the candidates in various relevant areas and to help them build professional networks, which, hopefully, will eventually lead them to jobs in the media.

Deadline for the applications is May 30th 2016.

You can find the application form, contact information and a more specific description of the programme on the Neue deutsche Medienmacher website

hostwriter meets Oikomedia at Tandem Europe

When we came across the Greek journalism platform Oikomedia our first thought was “Oh dear, that’s very similar to what we are trying to do.” As strong advocates of collaboration in journalism we decided to follow our own example and go for an embracement strategy. This lead to several meetings, a collaborative story about a Syrian band and most recently to programme placement at Tandem Europe in Milan and Leipzig.

We are excited to be working together with our Greek friends throughout the upcoming year on our shared mission to enable and encourage collaborative cross-border journalism.

Following #theherointrail: update 5 – BULGARIA

Update from Sofia, Bulgaria

The winners of this year’s #pitchprize are following a package of heroin from the Afghan poppy fields all the way to the needle in Europe. Their journey will take them through  IranTurkey and across Eastern-European borders. Read their updates from Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey here: update 1update 2update 3, and update 4

Mimi and Evgeni wait for addicts to come exchange their syringes, while Pepi plays with his daughter outside their home.

Mimi and Evgeni wait for addicts to come exchange their syringes, while Pepi plays with his daughter outside their home.

Nora, her son Pepi and his two children live in a corner house in Tatarli, a suburb of Sofia. Their friend Arthur sleeps in a wooden cabin in the front yard. Sometimes alone, sometimes with other addicts. They are all Roma, like most of the heroin users in Bulgaria.

Tightened border controls between Turkey and Bulgaria couldn’t prevent heroin flowing into the Balkans. Most of it is destined for Europe, but the local market gets its share too.

Nora started injecting in 1992, because of her former boyfriend: “Drugs and weapons have always been easy to find in this neighborhood. And they always will be.”

She deals together with her son: five euros for one shot of heroin; two for a shot of amphetamine.

When Evgeni and Mimi, two social workers from the Initiative for Health Foundation, park their van, Arthur comes to pick up new syringes. Sheltering from the pouring rain, he sits down for some small-talk and then lifts his trousers.

Immediately, the van fills up with the smell of rotting flesh. His left leg, twice as thick as his right, is covered with purple-colored gaping, oozing wounds.

He refuses any medical help. Then, wrings his swollen ankle in his black Nike shoes and limps onto the street.

“No doctor can save that leg”, says Mimi.

Arthur shows us his infected leg.

Arthur shows us his infected leg.

Arthur lights a cigarette in his wooden cabin outside Nora’s house.

Arthur lights a cigarette in his wooden cabin outside Nora’s house.

Used syringes are seen lying next to train tracks in a suburb of Sofia.

Used syringes are seen lying next to train tracks in a suburb of Sofia.

 

Following #theherointrail: update 4 – TURKEY

Update from Van, East Turkey, a Kurdish province bordering Iran. 

The winners of this year’s #pitchprize are following a package of heroin from the Afghan poppy fields all the way to the needle in Europe.Their journey will take them through  IranTurkey and across Eastern-European borders. Read their updates from Afghanistan and Iran here: update 1update 2, and update 3

Turkey and Iran have three official border crossings. Due to terrorism threats only the northernmost crossing near Bazargan remains open, resulting in massive traffic jams. A big chunk of heroin smuggled also passes through this border.

Turkey and Iran have three official border crossings. Due to terrorism threats only the northernmost crossing near Bazargan remains open, resulting in massive traffic jams. A big chunk of heroin smuggled also passes through this border.

S. used to smuggle large quantities of heroin from Iran to Istanbul. Because his father did so. And his grandfather.

When he got caught with 70 kg, he went to prison for 7 years.  

Growing up in a small Kurdish border town in Eastern-Turkey, there was not much left to do for S. but taking over the family business. 

Exchanging the horses for a jeep with secret compartments, he easily managed to cross the official border crossing.

A load of heroin hidden in barrels is captured at a border crossing between Iran and Turkey.

A load of heroin hidden in barrels is captured at a border crossing between Iran and Turkey.

“I never bribed the police, but I do know several police and army personnel involved in the traffic. Even today, Turkish governors and parliamentarians keep smuggling heroin to Istanbul in their own cars!” A former journalist who used to reveal many drug scandals confirms this.

The three most popular ways in Turkey to carry heroin are: covering it with female lingerie; shaping it like potatoes; or hiding it in the roof of a car.

“Today, there is much more drug traffic than in the old days”, S. observes. But the route has changed due to stricter controls within Turkey. Big Russian logistic firms took over a large part from the Turkish and smuggle the heroin to Russia through Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Childer enjoy the sunlight on a staircase in Tarlabaşı, a Kurdish and migrant inhabited neighbourhood in the heart of Istanbul. Tarlabaşı has been neglected by the Turkish government for years, resulting in ruined and burnt down houses. The neighbourhood is also widely associated with drug traffic and crime. At night dealers roam the streets freely, with heroin and synthetical drugs easily accessible.

Childer enjoy the sunlight on a staircase in Tarlabaşı, a Kurdish and migrant inhabited neighbourhood in the heart of Istanbul. Tarlabaşı has been neglected by the Turkish government for years, resulting in ruined and burnt down houses. The neighbourhood is also widely associated with drug traffic and crime. At night dealers roam the streets freely, with heroin and synthetical drugs easily accessible.

Travelling further westwards, Jim and I would find out the traditional Balkan route still remains an important gateway for heroin.

To be continued.

IS HEAVY METAL TOO LOUD FOR CHINA? – Winners of the #hostwriterPrize 2015

Congratulations to Caroline von Eichhorn (Germany), Lu Yang (China) and Christoph Behrens (Germany) for winning the #hostwriterPrize 2015, endowed with 3.000 Euros. 

The team in Shanghai

The team in Shanghai

How it all happened

Two German journalists travel to China and contact several colleagues on the ground via hostwriter. Lu Yang, based in Shanghai, replies immediately and is happy to meet up with them. Over a coffee Lu tells them that in 2015 many concerts and festivals, particularly in the heavy metal scene were cancelled. This is the start of a collaborative research that leads them deep into China’s mosh pit.

The research – delving into China’s mosh pit

Together the team interviewed festival organisers, musicians, fans and an employee of the Inferno, the only Metal bar in all of China. Their findings were rather peculiar. “The Chinese government has declared a guerrilla war on heavy metal. Concerts are cancelled, musicians and fans are being harassed. They are disturbing the ‘Chinese Dream’.”

A resourceful collaboration – there is more to come

“Lu’s local knowledge and very congenial nature opened many doors for us. The collaboration was crucial for really getting into the scene.” They decided to harness the cross-border knowledge as much as possible and, together, researched two other stories about the Chinese cinema and China’s ageing population. The outcome will either be used individually by each team member, or they will again publish as co-authors.

We think this is collaborative cross-border journalism at its best.

Read the story in English and French on InPerspective or the original version in German on Spiegel Online.

 

 

#hostwriterPrize: 2nd place goes to REACHING ITALY IS ONLY THE START

Congratulations to Yermi Brenner (Israel/Germany) and Silvia Giannelli (Italy) for winning the 2nd place of this year’s #hostwriterPrize, which is endowed with 2.000€.  

WP_20150505_006-2

A photo from the day Silvia and Yermi met for the first time in ‘real life’

An exemplary portrayal of how to use the platform

“Yermi had the idea of doing this cross-border investigation, and he realized he would not be able to do it without a collaborator in Italy. He logged into Hostwriter, and searched for ‘co-authorship’ in Italy with a journalist whose expertise includes migration. Silvia’s name was one of the first to come up, and that’s how everything got started.”

A picture perfect cross-border collaboration

“From the first day of our collaboration, we created a Google Doc and shared in it every piece of information or insight we collected. We brainstormed for questions before important interviews, translated for each other valuable researches, and constantly picked the other’s brain in order to digest and understand the vast amount of data and quotes we were collecting. We chatted late into nights ping-ponging on impressions we had of interviewees and ideas on how to develop our research, what step to take next.”

The result

“[A piece about] the conundrum African and Arab refugees face when they arrive in Europe through Italy, while they hope to reach wealthier countries. Our article, which was featured extensively in Al Jazeera America’s homepage – is a product of our extensive collaboration, and reflects the sum of our knowledge and efforts.”

You can read their piece either on Al Jazeera America or on InPerspective – our partner organisation published the original piece plus a professional translation into German and other languages are to follow.

The article on InPerspective in several languages

The article on Al Jazeera America

 

Following #theherointrail: update 3 – IRAN

Update from Sistan-Baluchistan, the Iranian province bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan 

At Raha rehab center in Shirabad, Zahedan’s poorest neighbourhood, 400 patients pass for methadone and breakfast daily.

Iran spends $ 2 billion a year to stem the flow of drugs inside the country. This year alone, more than 500 people were hanged for drug-related crimes. Nevertheless, tons of opium and heroin keep entering Iran, especially through Pakistan.

‘Many of my friends drive to the Pakistani border with their motorcycle, pick up opium or heroin, and sell it to another smuggler who drives it to Tehran’, says M, a university student from Mirjavee, a small impoverished town on the Iranian-Pakistani border.

‘Passing the border is easy in the mountains, or you can just bribe the police. One of my friends pays $500 each month to a high ranked officer to get past a checkpoint’.

A few months ago, M’s best friend was hanged for smuggling heroin.

One of the services Raha offers to their patients is free HIV testing.

One of the services Raha offers to their patients is free HIV testing.

Iran’s efforts to fight drug smuggling do pay off. Less heroin enters today, but chemicals are added to the pure heroin in secret labs, causing even more damage to addicts.

‘If Iran really wants to fight the drug problem, it should arrest around 6000 smugglers and help out an additional 15.000 addicts!’,  says Dr. Mohanna at the Raha rehab center in Zahedan, Sistan’s Baluchistan’s capital.

Barely adolescent, this boy is addicted to “shisha”, a variant of crystal meth made from opium.

Barely adolescent, this boy is addicted to “shisha”, a variant of crystal meth made from opium.

Afsanah, 18 years old, became addicted to opium working at a cucumber plantation. Many of her colleagues smoke to endure the workload.

Afsanah, 18 years old, became addicted to opium working at a cucumber plantation. Many of her colleagues smoke to endure the workload.

The winners of this year’s #pitchprize are following a package of heroin from the Afghan poppy fields all the way to the needle in Europe.Their journey will take them through  IranTurkey and across Eastern-European borders. Read their updates from Afghanisatan here: update 1 and update 2.

Following #theherointrail: update 2 – AFGHANISTAN

The winners of this year’s #pitchprize are following a package of heroin from the Afghan poppy fields all the way to the needle in Europe. Their journey will take them through  IranTurkey and across Eastern-European borders.

Update 2 from Nimroz, Afghanistan: 

“In Nimroz only 60 out of 15.000 hectares of poppy fields were destroyed last season, due to lack of staff and an unsupportive governor”, says the Counter Narcotics Director.

From the Afghan border province of Nimroz – also called ‘little Colombia’ - heroin is smuggled into Pakistan and Iran. Drug lords control politics and you can just buy heroin in the local bazar

From the Afghan border province of Nimroz – also called ‘little Colombia’ – heroin is smuggled into Pakistan and Iran. Drug lords control politics and you can just buy heroin in the local bazar

Patients from the Nimroz rehabilitation center take a walk in the courtyard of the police base.

Patients from the Nimroz rehabilitation center take a walk in the courtyard of the police base.

A youngster, addicted to heroin, stands with fellow addicts near the cemetery in Zaranj, Nimroz.

A youngster, addicted to heroin, stands with fellow addicts near the cemetery in Zaranj, Nimroz.

Cooking pots and chemicals used for heroin production, and a tyre used for smuggling lay in the Counter Narcotics Police headquarters. They will be used as evidence in future trials.

Cooking pots and chemicals used for heroin production, and a tyre used for smuggling lay in the Counter Narcotics Police headquarters. They will be used as evidence in future trials.

Read update 1

InPerspective: “The stringers are our journalists”

We are happy to announce a new exciting partner of hostwriter. When we were introduced to each other it felt like match made in heaven. Hostwriter provides an infrastructure for journalists while InPerspective offers an outlet for publishing and translating international content. This calls for promising collaborations. We met with two of the founders Hanne Bohmhammel and Anieke Becker and had a bit of a chat. 

Part of the inPerspective team in Berlin

Part of the inPerspective team in Berlin

InPerspective is a non-profit project made up of a network of journalists, translators and readers dedicated to reporting stories that explore different subjects and perspectives from all over the world.

How did you come up with the idea of inPerspective?

InPerspective: I (Hanne) studied political science on the Ivory Coast 2011 during the Ivorian crisis. When I talked to my family about the events I realised that our perception of what was happening differed greatly. They didn’t fully believe what I was telling them, because Spiegel Online wrote something different to what the people on the ground had told me. At this moment I really wanted a reliable source written by Ivorian people that my father could read  offering him a different perspective. But it but it didn’t exist.

Why do you think that there is a demand for inPerspective?

InPerspective: Everything is connected in this world. And if you want to understand the financial market for example you need a global view. You need to translate things to make them available. Or, for example the Ukrainian crisis. It unravelled when we started the project and a lot of readers criticised their national media for being anti Russian, but almost no one had the possibility to read Russian papers. We want to change that.

A lot of the work in foreign reporting is done by the fixers, which do not even get their names displayed under the article. The stringers are our journalists. Now they can write in their own language and then we’ll find a translator.

So, how does it work? 

InPerspective: A lot of journalists want to spread their perspectives to readers and they also want to read other points of view and not just their own national, or continental narratives. So it’s not that difficult to get the content from the journalists, especially as we don’t have a problem with 2nd-publishing articles.

And the translations?

InPerspective: The translators are really important for us. They are doing an amazing job. They need to know the cultural background in their country to translate it properly. Even UK and US English are so different. This is why we chose to only work with professional translators.

And the million dollar question. How do you pay them?

InPerspective: Everyone is currently working on a voluntary basis. But of course, we would like to change that.

How many people are contributing to the magazine at the moment?

InPerspective: We are around 50-60 people. Journalists, translators, developers, a graphic designer, and legal and tax advisors.