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Design by Leon Postma and Harald Dunnink (Momkai)

Everyone is saying membership is the future of journalism. Here’s how you can put it into practice

Rob Wijnberg
Oct 16, 2018 · 13 min read
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The headline (in Dutch) says: “Let’s do away with the news”
  • A correspondent has a clearly articulated mission
  • A correspondent keeps a public notebook
  • A correspondent works together with knowledgable readers
  • A correspondent shares her learning curve, from question to insight
  • A correspondent believes that we can understand and change the world
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The foundation: doing journalism from the heart

Becoming a correspondent for De Correspondent doesn’t start with good grades from a prestigious school or an impressive résumé packed with A-list employers. It starts in the heart. That’s what gives rise to the crucial traits we seek in every correspondent: insatiable curiosity, a deep sense of engagement, and a well-developed moral compass.

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The beginning: express your journalistic mission

So as you can see, a good correspondent has a lot in common with that one extraordinary teacher you still remember from high school. That instructor who didn’t just tick off line items in the syllabus and make you memorize the textbook, but who managed to convey her fascination, knowledge, and excitement — and even ignite them in you. The same is true of a correspondent: she doesn’t just report the facts; she makes you long to know more about them.

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The method: keep a public notebook

To be sure: while correspondents are permitted to have a point of view, they are also required to be evidenced-based in the extreme. That’s why, once a correspondent has clearly worded her mission, she starts keeping a public notebook. Our correspondents don’t just write “finished stories,” as is the custom at traditional news outlets; they send out personal newsletters and interim updates to share the journalistic work that’s going into those stories. We view journalism as a process, not as a product.

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The goal: tap into readers’ expertise

That means one of a correspondent’s most important tasks is to tap into that source of expertise and use it to further her journalism. A correspondent spends at least 30 to 40 percent of her time interacting with members and readers — not as an “extra”, but as an integral part of her work.

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The result: offer insight into how the world works

By working together with readers, we’re better able to make good on our key promise: to be an antidote to the daily news grind. If you want to expose not just the incidents that make the news, but also the structures that give rise to them — to report not just what happened today, but also what happens every day — you need the help of the people who live those realities on a daily basis.

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Speaking at The Festival of Progress | Photo by Fabian Fraikin
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The purpose: build a better world for everyone

Through their journalistic discoveries, correspondents not only change their own minds; they change De Correspondent’s as well. For example, our pieces on the insatiable greed for data felt by tech companies and governments has made us value our members’ privacy much more intensely. As a result we’ve stopped using Google Analytics, we’ve minimized the number of trackers on our site, and we’ve thoroughly rewritten our privacy statement.

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The Correspondent

The Correspondent is a movement for radically different…

Rob Wijnberg

Written by

Philosopher turned entrepreneur on a mission to redefine the news. Founder of The Correspondent, a journalism platform for #unbreakingnews.

The Correspondent

The Correspondent is a movement for radically different news. Founded in Amsterdam, now bringing our ad-free, member-funded, collaborative journalism to the English language.

Rob Wijnberg

Written by

Philosopher turned entrepreneur on a mission to redefine the news. Founder of The Correspondent, a journalism platform for #unbreakingnews.

The Correspondent

The Correspondent is a movement for radically different news. Founded in Amsterdam, now bringing our ad-free, member-funded, collaborative journalism to the English language.

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