How do I run a journalistic collaboration across borders?

With the downsizing of newsrooms around the world, freelance journalists and young professional journalists often lack the necessary connections with international colleagues. This is where Hostwriter has stepped up to help journalists find and establish connections with colleagues around the world. We see cross-border journalism as a tool to overcome national bias and prejudice, ultimately contributing towards better informed, more accountable and democratic societies.

Tips from former Hostwriter Prize winners

We asked the past winners for their tips regarding the main obstacles and challenges they faced while producing their collaborative story across borders. As one said, “Just do it! … Cross-border journalism is great and the editors are waiting for it.” But when it comes to the reality of the process, here are our prize-winners’ best tips.

Putting Together the Team:

  • Choose your collaboration partners wisely. Not every journalist is a valuable contributor to the story.
  • Make sure your team is really passionate about the project. That way, it will be easier to meet deadlines and finish the project on time.
  • Choose a coordinator. You need somebody to take the lead.
Gayatri Parameswaran and Felix Gaedtke won the Hostwriter Prize with their story Millions of children hard at work in India for Al Jazeera. In the image a boy carries heavy loads to the market in Bangalore [Felix Gaedtke/Al Jazeera]

The Collaboration Process:

  • Arrange a budget beforehand.
  • Put together the names of different media outlets from different countries and set in stone what’s expected from everybody.
  • As a team, set a structured plan that you all agree with.
  • Discuss the ins and outs of the story thoroughly.
Lorraine Malinder and Nathalie Bertrams worked together on the the reportage Trans people are risking their lives in Istanbul, released by PRI and won the Hostwriter Prize in 2017. In the photograph, a transgender brothel in Istanbul’s run-down Tarlabasi neighborhood, by Nathalie Bertrams/PRI

Your Responsibilities as Part of the Team:

  • Never hesitate to speak your mind in a constructive way.
  • Be positive.
  • Be helpful to others.
  • Take the project seriously.

The majority of the winners agreed that the most challenging aspects of the collaboration were finding a publisher and communicating on a regular basis with colleagues. With regards to the latter, one winner pointed out that “it was a bit difficult to get everyone to be on a video call at the same time due to time differences and varying schedules,” and for everyone to agree on a deadline.

Be the next Hostwriter Story Prize or Hostwriter Pitch Prize winner

Hostwriter awards an annual prize for collaborative journalism stories and pitches, The Hostwriter Prize donated by Otto Sprenger Foundation.

Don’t miss this opportunity: Cross borders and reach out to other Hostwriter members to pitch a story together for the Hostwriter Pitch Prize, or share your recent collaboration with us by applying for the Hostwriter Story Prize! The deadline for applications is 15 August 2018. Apply now

The journalists that won Hostwriter Prizes in previous years stated that they enjoyed working on a team and that their stories were improved by sharing views and information with colleagues and by peer-reviewing their stories with other journalists from a different country.


Authors:

Olalla Tuñas Martínez, Head of Communication at Hostwriter

Bernadette Geyer, Head of Marketing at Hostwriter