By Tina Lee

That was the big question of the day at the University of Porto’s Faculdad de Letras, where Hostwriter co-hosted a design sprint in January with up-and-coming journalists from the Porto region as part of the Circle Project.

The Circle Project is a new way to enable cross-border collaboration in the media, and is run by four European media partners — Are We Europe (NL), Hostwriter (DE), Arty Farty (FR), and n-ost (DE) who have joined forces to create media knowledge hubs in eight European cities, funded by the European Commission. The aim is to develop new digital skills and to bridge the gap between legacy media and local, millennial-led organizations, with Tbilisi being the first hub and now Porto the second.

The team at work during the Design Sprint. Photo via Are We Europe.

While Hostwriter and the other organizations were there to give input, advice and inspiration to the young journalists present in Porto, it ended up being an incredible learning experience for our team as well.

We learned how the accreditation system for journalists in Portugal presents a significant barrier to the journalist profession: official accreditation requires unpaid internships, which many cannot afford. This system also means that people who are not considered official journalists can have a hard time making community media: we joked that a local podcast hosted by a community member like what is typical around the world would be “illegal journalism”.

We also learned that Porto has suffered from a lack of local media in the past years, meaning locals need to primarily depend on national or Lisbon-based news media. It was clear from talking to the Circle participants, but also to friendly people around town, that this means there isn’t an easy way to find out about local events and organizations, and that significant local news stories sometimes don’t crack into media coverage.

Barriers for journalists, and gaps in local coverage: these are two issues we at Hostwriter are passionate about, so it was really inspiring to see Porto journalists dedicating themselves to doing something about it!

Zahra Salah Uddin during a team discussion with the participants in Porto. Photo by Rimma Samir

While the two-week design sprints did come to an end, our role doesn’t end there! Hostwriter will mentor the Porto hub team for three months to help and advise on how to best carry out research, network with other media professionals in the city for collaboration and fine-tune their ideas for the best possible method of creating a local media hub and community-building in Porto.

To keep up with the rest of Circle Project excitement, subscribe to the newsletter and stay tuned for reports from Vilnius and Mostar and other upcoming cities!