This year at Hostwriter was packed with travel, strategizing with local journalists, and giving and receiving awards. As usual, our small team relied on our international network of collaborators to increase our impact, and 2023 was marked by exciting new experiments in cross-border journalism.

We released Shift! A new publication

As part of the project Re: Framing Migrants in the European Media, Hostwriter participated in the creation of a publication collecting perspectives on creating community media. Shift! Actions for Migrating Perspectives is available online. With publication partners Here to Support, a launch event was also held in Amsterdam, highlighting the voices in the magazine and bringing together diverse voices in European media.

Decolonizing Newsroom Editorial meeting in Amsterdam

We got an Award for the Sinking Cities Project!

A major highlight of the year occurred in the historic seaside city of Lisbon, Portugal, where our team attended the European Journalism Center’s News Impact Summit (#NISLIS). Aside from two days of fascinating talks on climate journalism, Unbias the News gave input on climate reporting and cross-border methodology. But the most exciting moment came as we learned that Unbias the News had received a Climate Journalism Award in the Emerging Talent Category for The Sinking Cities Project!

Editor-in-Chief Tina Lee, Sinking Cities Author Ope Adetayo and Multimedia editor Gabriela Ramirez accept EJC prize on behalf of the Sinking Cities Team in Lisbon, Portugal.

Aside from the excitement of becoming an “award-winning newsroom,” 2023 also saw other forms of recognition for the Sinking Cities project, as Zuza Nazaruk’s piece on Rotterdam was selected as one of the top Solutions Journalism pieces of 2022 and Rehab Abd Almohsen was awarded a certificate of honor by the Egyptian Environment Writers Syndicate for her piece on Alexandria.

We connected up-and-coming journalists to the Circle Project

The Circle partners in Porto, Portugal

Starting in January and continuing throughout the year, our team was active in The Circle Project, a project with Are We Europe, Arty Farty, n-Ost and Hostwriter to empower local journalists through design sprints with local hubs. Whether in Tbilisi, Porto, or Belgrade, the project was a unique chance for learning and exchanging about some of the challenges facing local journalism and imagining ways to overcome them.

We kickstarted Display Europe

In September Hostwriter collaborated on hosting its first-ever conference in Budapest, Hungary, titled the ‘Display.Voices – European Communities in Media Conference’ to kick-start a media platform anchored in public values – built by independent, not-for-profit media organizations.

Hostwriter is part of the initial cohort of organizations behind the Display Europe platform which launched in December. It unites journalists, researchers, and citizens to shape a networked European media model, independent from market and government influences. Display Europe aims to foster cross-border collaboration among journalists and develop a digital infrastructure rooted in public values. The platform is a central portal dedicated to original, federated, and user-generated media content in 15 languages across the EU. The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) manages the project and is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.  The project is run by a consortium of Cultural Broadcasting Archive (CBA), Farikom, Eurozine, Voxeurop, Hostwriter, Krytyka Polityczna, El Dario, Good Conversations, Public Spaces, Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE), Human, VPRO, Sound & Vision, YEPP Italia, Fanzingo and Schuman Show.

Conference Hosts Julia Vernersson and Vladimir Radinović

We had a full plate at the International Journalism Festival and other conferences

In April, the Hostwriter team once again attended the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, and was present at numerous meet-ups and panels (in between bites of pasta and chocolate). The festival is one of the premier meet-ups for international journalists and always presents a great chance to help Hostwriter’s mission by spreading the gospel of collaborative cross-border journalism. Mercy Abang, Wafaa Albadry, Ankita Anand, and Tina Lee hosted a well-attended Unbias the News panel on fighting extractive tendencies in Western media. Our team members were present in numerous other feisty panels. Read more about what we brought to the festival this year here.

Mercy Abang, Wafaa Albadry, Tina Lee, Ankita Anand at International Journalism Festival 2023 in Perugia, Italy

In June 2023, Mercy Abang spoke at the DW Global Media Forum, which focused on “The role of journalism in (re)establishing trust between world regions”. This event served as a partner session of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum 2023, held in Bonn, Germany.

The invitation extended to Hostwriter expressed the forums admiration for our remarkable work in connecting journalists from around the world and fostering connections between different regions.

Mercy Abang, Hostwriter, Josephine Karianjahi of Africapodfest

In December, we held a training session at the DW Akademie. During this session, we focused on the importance of media organizations in providing support to journalists in exile, fostering collaborations in cross-border journalism, and emphasizing the value of diversity in journalism, especially within the host countries. This was one of numerous trainings and workshops we hosted in 2023.

DW Akademie training session in Berlin

We zeroed in on climate, migration, and minority rights at Unbias the News

Illustration for Deep Sea Mining investigation by Juan Carlos Hernández

In 2022 we learned we would be part of the Solutions Journalism Accelerator of the European Journalism Centre, and in 2023 continued our partnership with German outlet Perspective Daily to investigate the other side of European climate solutions. That meant examining topics like Europe’s burgeoning Green hydrogen partnerships with African countries and new approaches to agriculture and food. A special focus was our in-depth cross-border investigation into Deep Sea Mining, asking what will happen if the ocean becomes the site of the next major extractive industry: Sleepwalking into the Deep Sea.

In addition to continuing our quest to diversify climate journalism, in 2023 we focused on minority and migrant rights as well. A standout investigation by Ritwika Mitra found India’s Uttar Pradesh leading the nation in unexplained deaths of people in police custody. “Women struggle while men die in custody in India’s Uttar Pradesh,” examined the lasting impact of these crimes, often targeting religious minorities and members of scheduled castes, on the family members who are left behind.

Illustration by Walker Gawande for Unbias the News.

We also published two special series on migrant rights in Europe, both with support from Journalism Fund. In “Seeking Asylum in the Age of Offshoring,” we partnered with UK-based shado mag to investigate the impact of offshoring policies on immigrant rights movements in Berlin, Copenhagen and London.

In the Border Graves Investigation, Unbias published a months-long investigation into unmarked graves at Europe’s borders by a group of international freelancers in collaboration with The Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung. The report uncovered more than 1000 graves spread across Italy, Bosnia and Croatia, Spain, Poland, Lithuania and Greece where the deceased are unknown and unmarked- a vivid symbol of the dangers faced by migrants and the lack of basic human rights they currently have in Europe.

Our special focus on these topics will continue to the new year, augmented by an intense focus on how democratic movements are fighting against elite capture.

We gave prizes for cross-border journalism

Like in years past, this year we hosted the Hostwriter Prize, monetary awards for excellent cross-border stories as well as for exciting pitches that deserve to be investigated.

The winners of the 2023 Hostwriter Prize

The winners showcased imaginative approaches to collaboration and important stories that can only investigated across borders. Read about all the winners here.

We launched a forum for Journalists in Exile with ECPMF

In May, ECPMF launched a collaboration with Hostwriter to implement a closed exchange platform for journalists and media workers in exile in Germany. The collaboration is taking place within the framework of ECPMF’s “Opportunities in Exile” project which expands the organisation’s existing offers for journalists in exile with the primary goal of enabling long-term professional future opportunities and social participation.

All in all, it was a busy and rewarding year, leaving us all looking forward to what new challenges and opportunities 2024 will bring!