Hostwriter offers prizes – and a bed for the night!

by Jane Whyatt
Tracing the transnational journey of a gram of heroin from the field where the poppy grows to the end-user in an European capital is a difficult and dangerous task. It makes a great story. And it shows the power of collaborative journalism – even on a tiny budget.

Hostwriter website is the website that brings together writers and reporters across the world. (Screenshot:

Thanks to, it became a reality for Jim Huylebroek and his team, and reached a worldwide audience through Vice News is the website that brings together writers and reporters across the world. This year it is again offering financial prizes for new ideas that involve journalistic research in more than one country. They can either be stories that are already commissioned or pitches from journalism students and new entrants to t he media industries who do not yet have a job or contract.

Described as ’an international infrastructure’, Hostwriter is a couch-surfing site where any writer, researcher, photographer or broadcaster who needs to travel for work can find a local guide, help with translations, fixers and contacts – as well as overnight accommodation. New users post examples of their published work, and in 102 countries worldwide they can find a host.

Felix Franz Hostwriter founder Felix Franz (Photo: private)

Hostwriter founder Felix Franz tells ECPMF “It’s not only a couch for a young freelancer – we also have many older established journalists who make available their guest room.“

This year he expects even more successful collaborations to compete for the two awards which together total 5,000 euros.

And although journalists are traditionally quite reluctant to share their investigative scoops, Franz believes that – through – a new journalism is emerging: “Our experience has been completely the opposite. People LOVE to collaborate. If more than one person collaborates on a story it becomes better and deeper. And if two people collaborate from different countries, they’ve got different audiences.“

Interview with Hostwriter founder Felix Franz

There are four prizes to be won – two for stories and two for pitches.

Where does the money come from? This might be an important consideration for some journalists who wish to defend their independence. The prize money is donation by a charity, the Otto Sprenger Foundation, and Hostwriter’s Tamara Anthony explains the connection:
“Otto Sprenger is a trade former unionist and employee of the NDR (a German public service broadcaster). He grew up under impoverished conditions and had to fight for a good education. Otto Sprenger also did a lot of volunteer work and wanted to improve international collaboration of broadcasting companies. For Otto Sprenger the aim of his foundation was defined by supporting young journalists, collaboration and social engagement. I think that’s what the #hostwriterPrize is all about.“

The deadline for entries to 2016 Hostwriter prizes is August 31st

Creative Commons LicenseThis article is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
Source information: This article was originally published by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom –