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Dec. 2, 2013, 11:17 a.m.
LINK: medium.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   December 2, 2013

Back in April, we told you about De Correspondent, a new Dutch news site backed by a remarkable $1.3 million in crowdfunding. Jay Rosen declared it the most interesting startup he’d read about this year:

With the benefit of a few more months’ experience, De Correspondent publisher Ernst-Jan Pfauth wrote up some of what they’ve learned so far. (The total raised eventually reached $1.7 million.)

de-correspondent-logoBy 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…

Therefore, De Correspondent aims for its authors to report on themes that transcend classic beats: themes like energy, privacy, or the economy of the future, to name a few. This reporting takes place in their own ‘gardens’ — sections of the site they can call their own, and in which they can build a relationship with readers who choose to ‘follow’ them. The main goal of this approach is to establish a lasting and meaningful relationship with our readers. Conceived of as ‘members’ rather than ‘subscribers,’ readers are asked 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.

Also, this is interesting from a how-to-push-sharing-on-a-paywalled-site perspective:

Apart from promoting some of our articles in Facebook posts, we don’t advertise. We think our readers are our best ambassadors; therefore they can share as many of our articles as they want. When they share an article, a notification bar tells their friends and followers: ‘This article has been shared with you by …’, followed by the member’s name. This strategy seems to work for now, since the ‘New visitors’ and ‘New members’ graphs show similar patterns. Moreover, we can tell that a lot of new readers sign up right after they’ve read an article. Our most popular article (203,676 unique visitors) inspired at least 147 readers to sign up right away.

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