In this week’s episode of Media Voices, Peter talks to Rob Wijnberg, co-founder and Editor in Chief of Dutch ad-free, member-funded news site De Correspondent. After securing runway funding, Rob is in New York preparing the launch of The Correspondent, an English-language version of the news network, and he spoke about the obstacles and opportunities the team is encountering ahead of launching.

In the news roundup, we take a look at the potential fallout of Trump vs. Google, some admirable efforts from Twitter, and discuss where you’d buy a hairdryer online with bizarre specificity (not BuzzFeed Reviews, it turns out).

We’re reading:

In our own words: Peter Houston

Anyone that’s listened to more than a couple of Media Voices episodes will have heard me mention De Correspondent before. We’ve previously had the site’s International Editor Maaike Goslinga on the podcast and I interviewed Jay Rosen about the research The Membership Puzzle Project was doing to support DC’s US launch.

In the past I’ve also spoken with DC’s co-founder Ernst-Jan Pfauth. So in my own personal game of ad-free-member-funded Top Trumps, the chance to speak with co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Rob Wijnberg completed the pack.

Let me briefly explain why I’m so enamoured of DC, and so excited about the upcoming launch of The Correspondent, an English language spin-off from the Dutch original.

DC’s roots lie in an insanely successful crowd-funding project. Ernst-Jan and Rob raised $1.3 million in 2013 to launch the site, all on the premise that it would be ad free, independent and different from the usual ‘daily news grind’. They then leveraged that initial success into 60,000 members paying 60 euros a year to be part of the DC community.

They then went to America and, working closely with Jay Rosen to understand the global news market, have secured almost $1 million in runway funding from the Omidyar network. Recently they hired Zainab Shah away from Buzzfeed to be their head of operations in New York and they have started working with Blue State Digital, the agency that helped elect then re-elect Obama, to craft their English-language member campaign.

That’s an impressive five years by anyone’s standards, but in a news landscape dominated by legacy behemoths, it’s an almost unbelievable feat. But even more impressive to me is the fact that DC has remained absolutely true to its founding principles. There have been no pivots to programmatic, or native advertising or video. They remain ad-free, member funded.

And DC is more than a just a paid-content success story. They have pioneered the use of the audience in their reporting, forging direct relationships between reporters and the member community.


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