#MediaHack, first-of-its-kind hackathon, focuses on sustainability of 26 media outlets

#MediaHack, first-of-its-kind hackathon, focuses on sustainability of 26 media outlets

Media Matters for Democracy in partnership with Media Lab hosted #MediaHack — A Hackathon for Media Sustainability & Viability in Pakistan, a first-of-its-kind media acceleration event for journalists running their own independent media outlets or seeking sustainable business development models for their outlets or startup ideas, or even those who have a great media startup idea and want to pursue it. The event was held from 31st May to 3rd June 2022 and ensured capacity building of 26 entrepreneurial journalists, each running a news outlet for their own, to launch their outlet and focus on their sustainability.


Over 170 pitches on media sustainability and viability were received, out of which 26 outlets with most promising results were selected. The applicants were selected through an open call announced on May 20, 2022.

During the hackathon, the participants went through rigorous coursework aimed at helping them understand the key dynamics, challenges, opportunities, and potential strategies for independent content creation, and its monetisation through traditional and alternative business models, among other things.

The participants were then given hands-on assistance in developing their ideas through design-thinking and given extensive thematic support from various professionals during the process. Desks were set up to provide them support on the following themes: Content Management, Brand Management, Design, Video Production, and Sustainability.

At the end, participants presented their final ideas, business models, and work plans to a panel of expert judges. The judges included Zeeshan Haider, News Editor BBC Urdu, Natasha M. Zai, journalist, Mehmal Sarfraz, Co-Founder The Current, Sadaf Khan, Co-Founder Media Matters for Democracy, Ayesha Khalid, journalist.

The four winning enterprises belonged to: Javed Baloch (Gwadar e Tawar), Oonib Azam (The Citizenry), Fazal Khaliq (Gandhara News), and Hasnain Raza (Media Project on Conservation Environment and Nature MPCEN). They received grants for the implementation of their business models.

About the Winners


  •       Javed Baloch is a young freelance journalist from Gwadar, Balochistan running Gwadar e Tawar, Balochistan’s first local digital media outlet that operates in Balochi. Gwadar e Tawar has excelled in local reporting for Gwadar and Balochistan at large. His journalistic work is also published in Sujag and The Friday Times.
  •       Oonib Azam is a young journalist from Karachi who set up The Citizenry, in addition to working for The News international. He has published stories with international publication as well like The Third Pole. His work is focused on urban and environment issues of Karachi mostly, however recently he has done stories on flooding. He also teaches journalism at Karachi University as visiting faculty.
  •       Fazal Khaliq is a journalist, research writer and cultural activist with a commitment to protect the Pakistani cultural heritage from deterioration and terrorism through his writings and seminars. He has been working as a correspondent with Dawn, a widely read English newspaper in Pakistan, and has authored nine books on different topics, from militancy to cultural heritage, poetry to travelogs. He also organizes awareness-raising seminars regarding Gandhara civilization and its history. In addition, he used to teach at a local school in the Swat District, passing on the importance of cultural assets to his students, including Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. He believes that the rich archaeological and cultural heritage in Pakistan, especially the ancient sites of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, has the power to bring people of diverse ethnicity and religions together and promote religious harmony in Asia.
  •   Syed Hasnain Raza is a Multimedia Environmental Educator, Researcher & content creator. He is experienced in wildlife & conservation filmmaking, digital Video production script writing, digital photography, digital graphic design, advertising & social media content creation. Besides, he has a background in Academic Research & has been involved in teaching at university level. He is an environmental activist creating awareness on conservation related issues, climate change and part of many international environmental organizations as an activist. His startup Media Project on Conservation Environment and Nature was developed under the mentorship project.

Commitment to Media Sustainability and Viability

Media Matters for Democracy and Media Lab are committed to the cause of promoting sustainability and viability of journalistic enterprises and entrepreneurial products in Pakistan. The organisation has provided support to 14 digital media outlets for their development, branding, establishment, production of innovation content under programmes such as ‘Digital Media Fellowship Program’ and Local Voices-Global Exchange program with DW Akademie, and provided support to establishment of 22 YouTube channels by women journalists in collaboration with Women in Media Alliance.

Alongside, the organisation firmly believes that unavailability to attend in-person training sessions should not devoid any journalist of the opportunity to enhance their skills because of which MMfD has launched online courses on topics such as Countering Disinformation and Citizen Journalism.