Journalism Podcasts

Podcast: De Correspondent co-founder on launching a member-funded model in the U.S.

It’s time to welcome back the Media Voices team who took August off for some well earned R&R. The team kick off their third season with a podcast interviewing Rob Wijnberg, co-founder and Editor in Chief of Dutch ad-free, member-funded news site De Correspondent.

De Correspondent (often referred to as The Correspondent) is a Dutch news website based in Amsterdam. It was launched in 2013 after raising more than €1 million in crowd-funding. The title’s chief point of difference is that it bypasses the daily news cycle and focusses on in-depth reportage, led by individual correspondents and citizen journalists who focus on specific topics.

Not only has the success of De Correspondent inspired other projects elsewhere, the website has already achieved 60,000 paying subscribers. In May of this year it received $950,000 in additional runway funding from the Omidyar Network as well as contributions from other independent foundations to help grow its international reach.

The Media Voices team caught up with Rob Wijnberg in New York, the latest outpost of De Correspondent’s expanding network. Chief points of discussion include:

  1. The intense competition in bigger markets such as the U.S. and the problems of taking a local language website worldwide.
  2. The enormous distrust of journalism and legacy media in the U.S. and UK compared to the Netherlands, as well as the deeper polarisation of political views across the English-language spectrum.
  3. De Correspondent has hired the ex-global operations lead of Buzzfeed to help manage and build up its U.S. presence. The marketing strategy will partly hinge on finding ‘ambassadors’ and respected influencers who support their cause.
  4. Wijnberg feels that the move towards a subscription culture, whilst increasing competition for its member-funded journalism, is a positive development and not a threat.
  5. De Correspondent is trying to focus on trends and structural developments that shape our world rather than compete with the daily news cycle that is more predicated on sensational journalism. “The underlying fundamentals behind the news are far more important”.
  6. This journalistic stance will help the title create its own unique niche and differentiate its content from other media outlets according to Wijnberg. This has already happened in the Netherlands.

The podcast can be listened to in full below:

Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

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