De Correspondent now has 50,000 paying members

And here are our 3 biggest challenges for 2017

Illustration: De Correspondent / Leon Postma

Hello, friends of the press! Here’s an update from Amsterdam about our member-funded interactive journalism endeavor De Correspondent. Our site has reached the milestone of 50,000 paying members, making it the largest subscription-based news site in the Netherlands.

In case you haven’t heard about us, here’s what we do:

  • We serve as an antidote to the daily news grind. Our 31 beat correspondents don’t chase the latest headlines; they cover the structural developments that shape our world.
  • We involve readers in our reporting and give members a voice on our platform. Journalists share their story ideas and setbacks, and readers respond with invaluable insights (based on professional, academic, or personal experience).
  • We’re completely ad-free (here’s why) and independent of corporate capital. We started with a world record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, raising $1.7 million in 30 days.

Since we launched in 2013, 50,000 members was always a magic number, a milestone we set our sights on.

So I’m really pleased to say we broke through that mark and now have 52,000 paying members! Some 78% of members pay €60 a year (around $65), the other 22% pay €6 a month ($6.50).

Here’s the breakdown of our growth:

  • After initial crowdfunding campaign in April 2013, we had 19,000 paying members
  • At the launch of De Correspondent in September 2013: 20,000
  • At the end of 2014: 30,000
  • At the end of 2015: 41,000
  • At the end of 2016: 52,000 paying members

And here’s how we invested the membership fees

Every year in September, we tell our readers how we’ve invested their membership fees in the previous calendar year:

Graphic by De Correspondent / Leon Postma

The Correspondent in English

As you can see in the graph, we spend 1.2% of our membership revenue on translation.

We invest in translations because we primarily focus on global developments and want to share our findings with as many people as possible. Our international team translates and promotes one English article per week, such as this exposé about TPP think tanks, this crash course on climate change, and this piece on why poor people make such poor decisions.

And you might have seen our Trump coverage by Sarah Kendzior:

You can sign up for our free weekly newsletter if you’d like to receive our stories in English.

Our 3 biggest challenges for 2017

  1. Keep building trust in journalism by working for and with readers. Trust in journalism is at a historic low. If we want to repair our industry’s reputation, we have to stop demanding the public’s attention for attention’s sake, and strive to inform readers in the best possible way. This includes giving readers the opportunity to share their knowledge.
  2. Give our readers the means to build a reputation on our platform.
    Our correspondents share story ideas and keep public notebooks so readers can contribute their own expertise to our reporting. This leads to richer, well-founded stories and loyal readers. We now want to invest in helping our reader-experts establish a reputation on our platform, by offering verified job titles and better profile pages.
  3. Inform readers using articles, but experiment with more sustainable formats, such as tools or crash courses. For inspiration, I regularly reread this article from The New York Times Research & Development blog:

Reach out if you want to learn more (because we’re fighting the same battle)

Winter is coming,” NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen wrote recently. Journalism is facing tough times. That’s why we don’t see fellow journalists as competitors at De Correspondent. We’re all in this together — this quest to keep people informed and democracies strong.

So we’ll keep sharing our progress and our setbacks, our challenges and new ideas in this Medium collection. Let us know if you’d like to learn more about things we’re doing in the Netherlands. Feel free to reach out at ernst-jan [at] decorrespondent.nl or @ejpfauth. Our team will also be attending the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy.

Until next time!