Unbias the News Kick-Off event spreads the message of collaborative healing and networking to fight for a more equitable, inclusive world of journalism.

By Zahra Salah Uddin

The team of Hostwriter’s new cross-border newsroom project ‘Unbias the News’ held a kick-off event on June 1, 2021, for journalists from 85 countries who had submitted a pitch for the first round of stories. More than 80 colleagues joined the networking and training event that was open to all journalists, regardless of whether or not their story pitch was accepted. Feeling part of a global movement to making journalism more equitable and inclusive, Unbias the News is creating a community for journalists who face structural barriers and discrimination based on their geographical location, ethnic origin, gender, disability, class, age, or religion. 

Regional editor Ankita Anand and Engagement Editor Zahra Salah Uddin at Unbias the News invited speakers from the Global Investigative Journalism Network and the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma in Europe, who shared their knowledge and insights regarding how shrinking media freedom and mental health create barriers for journalists to get their stories told.

Jeanny Gering, Program Manager at Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma, shared the importance of not staying isolated and alone. “Find an ally to talk to, even if it’s just one person. That is one of the strongest ways we can avoid self-censorship. I think this is a huge part of what we are talking about here at Unbias the News, because it is a form of self-censorship when we don’t report the stories that we want to report,” says Jeanny Gering. Social support helps in keeping ourselves sane and being able to keep a check on how we are that can help us continue to do our jobs.

Jeanny further highlighted in the session that we take advantage of this network that Unbias the News brought together and listen to one another and play a role in learning from each other and our work.

Nikolia Apostolou, director at GIJN’s resource centre, talked about collaboration between journalists and shared her thoughts on freelance journalism, being a freelance journalist herself for more than a decade. “It’s like the constant stress and pain of surviving is really at the top of the barriers we have in journalism,” Nikolia added. “That’s why we [GIJN] are trying to help people get funding.” Next to its extensive grant section, the resource centre at GIJN offers training, and also enables journalists to better their skills free of cost.

“Networking is so important,” says Nikolia. “Being here with everyone is a big step. We are all in our bubbles in our countries and the pandemic is so bad but at the same time we meet people every day from countries we’d never imagined that we’d meet.”

Nikolia also highlighted that attacks against journalists globally is a huge barrier and that helping one another can make our lives and work easier and better.

Unbias the News Editor-in-chief Tina Lee also shed some light on barriers in the field such as trust issues and mobility. She observed that journalists are often hesitant to collaborate with or trust someone from another country, but are willing to work with someone they have never met before if they are from the same country. Tina also highlighted stereotypes when story applications are accepted on the basis of who reporters know, which school they attended or whether or not they have been published in legacy media before. 

“That is something we wanted to do differently at Unbias the News. We judge on the basis of the quality of the pitch, not on whether we have already worked with this person before or have they have already been published in mainstream media; but what’s the story they’re wanting to tell,” says Tina.

The team at Unbias the News was grateful for this exchange and left the session with a sense of learning and camaraderie. We are not alone, and now is our chance to continue to collaborate and work towards removing barriers in journalism together. 

This event was the first of a number of upcoming free trainings aimed at addressing barriers faced by journalists wanting to tell underreported stories. To stay up to date with the latest discussions and training opportunities, follow Unbias the News on Twitter and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter.

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Follow Nikolia Apostolou and Jeanny Gering on Twitter.