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How we turned a world record in journalism crowd-funding into an actual publication

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De Corespondent | | November 27, 2013

De Correspondent 300x198 - How we turned a world record in journalism crowd-funding into an actual publication

About Dutch journalism startup De Correspondent

De Correspondent is a Dutch-language, online journalism platform that offers background, analysis, investigative reporting, and the kinds of stories that tend to escape the radar of mainstream media because they do not conform to what is normally understood to be ‘news.’ We launched on September 30th, after raising a total of 1.7 million dollars with a crowd-funding campaign.

On April 8th this year, professor Jay Rosen tweeted: ‘That’s it. I’m declaring De Correspondent the most interesting journalism start-up I have read about in 2013’. He had just read an article on Nieman Lab that described the world record in journalism crowd-funding we had achieved by raising $1.3 million in just the first three weeks. When the crowd-funding campaign ended two weeks later, nearly 19.000 Dutchmen and -women had invested a minimum of 80 dollars each. From then on, we had five months to build a platform and hire an editorial staff to keep our crowd-funding promise of launching in September 2013.

By now, we have a staff of 7 full-time and 19 freelance writers, a website that adjusts itself to every reading device, and almost 24.000 subscribers who have a year-long subscription of 80 dollars (60 euros). To put that in perspective: with The Netherlands having only 16,8 million citizens, this would be the equivalent of 450,000 subscribers for an American publication. We have a physical home in the offices of a former Shell laboratory on the shores of the river IJ, in Amsterdam.

Here’s our story.

From ‘news’ to ‘new’

In 2010, philosopher Rob Wijnberg (1982) became the editor in chief of, the morning edition of NRC Handelsblad, the Netherlands’ premier daily national newspaper. Rob wanted to steer the newspaper away from current events, since they already get wide coverage from free and ubiquitous media outlets. Wijnberg felt that the newspaper should focus more on ‘new’ than on ‘news’ by reporting on the kinds of developments that are less spectacular than most news events, but that do have a large impact on our daily lives.

When all newspapers routinely published the yearly governmental budget memorandum on their front-pages, Rob would opt for the less covered but more influential story of refugees being traded by national governments. His superiors weren’t all happy with this atypical approach to news and asked him to leave in September 2012.

Inspired by readers of who cancelled their subscriptions when he was fired, Rob started talking to friends and former colleagues about starting a new newspaper. In December 2012 he met up with the founders of Momkai, a creative agency with clients such as Red Bull and Nike. Lead designer Harald Dunnink helped him turn his ideas into an identity for a new online journalism publication called ‘De Correspondent’, which Momkai would build for cost price when 15.000 people invested at least 60 euros each during a crowd-funding campaign. I joined them as a publisher, also leaving NRC Handelsblad, where I used to be editor in chief of its website,

Rob wrote a manifesto, in which he promised that ‘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 reporting on the latest hype, scare, or breaking news story.’

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share save 171 16 - How we turned a world record in journalism crowd-funding into an actual publication

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