Monday, December 2, 2013

This online journalism startup raised $1.7M in crowdfunding and you’ve never heard of it

raising $1.7 million and signing up close to 24,000 subscribers in the Netherlands is pretty significant, considering the country only has about 16 million people.

Daily, but going beyond 'today's latest'
De Correspondent will publish fresh stories on a daily basis, but it aims to uncover, explain and highlight deep-lying structures and long-term developments that powerfully shape our world, rather than speculating about the latest hype, scare, or breaking news story.

From 'news' to 'new'
De Correspondent prioritizes relevance over recentness; looks for alternative ways of doing journalism; is transparent about its journalistic choices and dilemmas; values thorough fact-checking; and takes the ways in which news media shape our perceptions of events into account in its own reporting.

Ideals over ideology
De Correspondent recognizes and values the fact that its authors are no objective automatons who are out there recording 'the truth'; rather, they are subjective beings, rooted in and motivated by ideas and ideals. While correspondents will be expected to be factual, accurate, and fair in their reporting, they are not expected to hide the surprise, hope, anger, or enthusiasm that gave rise to this reporting in the first place.

Themes and connections
Believing that traditional divisions of news into such categories as 'national,' 'international,' 'politics,' ‘business,' etc., no longer make sense in an increasingly globalized and networked world, De Correspondent aims for its authors to report on themes that transcend such classic beats – including, for instance, energy, privacy, or the economy of the future.

Journalism before profit
De Correspondent is a commercial, for-profit enterprise, but its business model focuses on selling content to readers, rather than selling readers to advertisers. Subscription fees and donations are its main source of income, and at least twenty per cent of revenue will be invested in further developing the platform. The ultimate goal is to improve journalism, not to fill the pockets of shareholders.

From Readers to Participants
De Correspondent wants to establish a lasting and meaningful relationship with its readers. Conceived of as 'members' rather than 'subscribers,' readers will be asked for their opinion regarding the investment of new funds, as well as to contribute their expertise on specific topics. While vigilant about its editorial independence, De Correspondent believes that a unidirectional, one-to-many relationship between a news medium and its readership is wholly of the past, and that active audience involvement is crucial for maintaining a healthy, thriving platform.

Partners, not advertisers
To prevent becoming 'advertiser-oriented,' De Correspondent has the subscription fees paid by readers – currently € 60 a year – as its main source of income. De Correspondent is open to entering into partnerships with third parties, like universities or research institutes, but these partners will have no stake in the profitability of De Correspondent, and De Correspondent will be fully transparent about the nature and terms of such partnerships.

Like-minded people, not target audiences
Being ad-free, De Correspondent doesn't have to think about a 'target audience' and tailor its content accordingly, focusing, for instance, on topics that might interest 25-to-40-year olds with lots of money. Instead, anyone who believes in the vision and mission of De Correspondent is welcome to join; De Correspondent sees its readers as curious individuals who cannot be reduced to a set of categories.

Ambitious in ideals, modest in claims
De Correspondent does not pretend to constitute a substitute for existing, 'old' or 'mainstream' media; rather, it intends to supplement those media, filling a gap in the current news landscape by looking beyond, above and behind the daily news grind. Being an addition rather than a replacement, De Correspondent will happily collaborate with other outlets if such collaboration seems fruitful and worthwhile.

Fully digital
De Correspondent is a digital medium available on desktop, tablet and smartphone; in time, it will also offer apps for Android, iOS and other operating systems. Sharing articles with non-members will be possible to a limited extent. The precise form and technicalities of the platform take shape through ongoing experimentation, as De Correspondent, together with design agency Momkai, searches for those formats and technical specifications that suit online journalism in the very best way.