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Zainab Shah joins The Correspondent as Operations Lead. Next up, a Managing Editor (is it you?)

Ernst Pfauth
Jul 18, 2018 · 6 min read

De Correspondent, a Dutch journalism platform based in Amsterdam, is a world leader in membership for journalism. After five years in the Netherlands, we are now committed to bringing our journalism to a global audience by launching The Correspondent for English-language readers in the US and beyond.

Last time I updated you on these efforts, I shared that we’d raised $1.8 million in runway funding to build our membership campaign.

We’ve put that investment to good use with our first hire in the US.

Zainab Shah, former Global Operations Lead at BuzzFeed, is joining The Correspondent as our Operations Lead.

Meet our Operations Lead Zainab Shah

Zainab will ensure The Correspondent operates smoothly in the run-up to our global membership campaign — a challenge she’s perfectly suited for.

She previously built and managed editorial processes across multiple time-zones and cultural contexts for BuzzFeed’s international editions in Mexico, Brazil, Germany, and Australia, to name just a few. She was also in charge of international on-boarding and collaborating with local leads to manage BuzzFeed’s global network of freelancers.

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Zainab Shah

Her experience elsewhere includes hosting a radio show on Pakistan’s premier FM network, founding a reading series in New York for underrepresented writers, and helping to launch Yoko Ono’s book Acorn — a guide designed to “open our eyes on better ways of relating to ourselves, each other, and the planet we co-habit”. That’s certainly a mission The Correspondent supports.

We also love Zainab’s food writing — you should definitely read her essay about her mother’s nihari published in the Best Food Writing 2015 anthology alongside Anthony Bourdain. And since The Correspondent aspires to become a global journalism platform, it helps that Zainab has lived in Seoul, Nairobi, Hong Kong, London, Lahore, and Toronto before moving to New York.

If there’s a better way, Zainab will often find it, and that’s why she’s excited to bring The Correspondent’s sustainable, ad-free model for journalism to the US and beyond. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

So now that Zainab has joined us, we’re ready to expand our senior leadership team again, starting with a Managing Editor.

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We’re looking for a Managing Editor

We need a Managing Editor to develop The Correspondent’s editorial strategy, and to help build and run a diverse team of correspondents from our headquarters in New York City. Here’s what we’re looking for.

Our ideal managing editor…

  1. Fully subscribes to the philosophy and founding principles of our platform.
  2. Sees the unique advantages of a news site that is ad-free and focused on relevance instead of recency.
  3. Has a deep understanding of the fundamental shortcomings of the digital news industry and bold ideas on how to fix them.
  4. Can easily assess what context is missing from run-of-the-mill reporting and knows what kind of journalism is needed to counter this.
  5. Supports efforts to improve cultural and ethnic diversity in journalism.
  6. Believes strongly that every reader has invaluable expertise, and values their contributions as an indispensable part of journalism.
  7. Strongly believes that interaction between journalists and readers is crucial in restoring lost trust in journalism, and understands why the relationship with an audience should be personal rather than institutional.
  8. Can quickly determine if a journalistic production meets The Correspondent’s standards and provide effective feedback on where to improve it.
  9. Is keen to popularize in-depth journalism and passionate about spreading it widely without compromising quality or integrity.
  10. Has a great understanding of how the internet is changing journalism and recognizes the opportunities this brings for fundamentally changing the practice.
  11. Thinks of journalism as a service aimed at helping people understand the world around them instead of a product aimed at grabbing their attention.
  12. Advocates for constructive, solution-oriented journalism, helping readers to be better citizens and providing them with ways of acting on their ideals.
  13. Explicitly rejects the ideal of objectivity in journalism, and thinks journalists should be guided by a moral compass and declared worldview rather than fake a neutral stance or ‘view from nowhere’.
  14. Can inspire correspondents to realize their full potential as writers and conversation leaders, and has a genuine interest in what moves and motivates them.
  15. Subscribes to a style of management that is bottom up, personal, accessible, transparent, and democratic, and does not want to sit in a separate office.
  16. Works together with colleagues on the basis of trust, and values talent over age or job title.
  17. Is an experienced public speaker, an interesting person to interview, and a great ambassador for The Correspondent, its ideals, and its journalism.
  18. Has no problem with the fact that being Managing Editor is a demanding job with a lot of responsibilities.
  19. Knows how to write in clear and accessible language.
  20. Loves experimenting; thinks big and acts quickly.

The Managing Editor’s responsibilities

Just like at De Correspondent — where 85% of revenue comes from readers—we want the operating expenses of The Correspondent covered by paying members. To help us find those members, we will set up a global membership campaign in the next twelve months.

If this campaign is successful, we will start publishing a couple of months later.

These are the responsibilities of the Managing Editor during this journalistic adventure.

Before the campaign

There are three key deliverables in this phase:

  1. Because The Correspondent will start from scratch, the core responsibility will be to build a diverse and talented team of correspondents and supporting staff. Together with founding editor in chief Rob Wijnberg, you will set up an inclusive hiring strategy and comprehensive hiring plan that can kick into gear when the campaign is successful.
  2. You will also create a manual for ‘The Correspondent way of journalism’. You’ll interview De Correspondent’s Dutch staff (from correspondents to the board) and write a document that new hires can read and use.
  3. Together with Rob and our advisor and launching partner Jay Rosen, you will create a list of potential beats and hires.


  • You’ll help founders Rob (who has an American passport, but grew up in the Netherlands), creative director Harald Dunnink, and me to navigate American culture — both in beat and journalist selection, and in organizational culture.
  • You will have exploratory talks with journalists all over the country, to find out who you think we should work with.

During the campaign

  • Because The Correspondent wants to be transparent about our editorial decisions, you will be one of the few public faces of the campaign. You will give interviews and attend events to share The Correspondent’s mission and vision.
  • As soon as the campaign achieves its goals, you will start reaching out to potential journalists and start job interviews.

After the campaign, before launch

  • You will recruit potential correspondents.
  • You will have job interviews with potential candidates and select the ones that should have a second interview (during which Rob will also be present).
  • Together with Rob and Zainab, you will set up a day-to-day operations structure and a collaboration structure that involves editorial staff working remotely while maintaining a clear company culture.
  • During the hiring process, you will monitor our progress towards our editorial goals (such as: a diverse newsroom, interesting mix of beats).
  • You will train new hires in The Correspondent way of journalism (open, interactive, showing your learning curve, public notebook) with one-on-one coaching and group training sessions.

After the launch

  • You will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the publication and its editorial activities.
  • Together with Rob, you can hire, fire, or promote staff members, and can determine editorial strategy.
  • You will create and enforce deadlines and editorial priorities.
  • You will work closely together with Rob to make sure the publication reports on topics of interest to its readers, involves members in the journalism, and covers a wide range of subjects.
  • Because everything at The Correspondent revolves around building personal and trusting relationships between editors and members, the managing editor is also a public persona, both in writing and on stage. Topics may include explaining editorial decision making and responding to editorial controversies.

What we offer

  • A full-time role (40hrs), competitive salary, healthcare and 401(k) allowances, vacation days.
  • An NYC office on 37 W 20th St.
  • A role at the forefront of innovation in journalism,
    with fantastic, ambitious co-workers.
  • We’d like to start as soon as possible.

Interested? Awesome! You can apply here.

Would you like to share this job opening? You can use this link.

Meanwhile, I’ll back be later with new updates on The Correspondent’s quest to launch our global edition.

Until next time!

The Correspondent

The Correspondent is a movement for radically different…

Thanks to Rob Wijnberg and Jessica Best

Ernst Pfauth

Written by

Cofounder & CEO of The Correspondent. Working to bring our ad-free, reader-funded journalism to the US and beyond.

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.

Ernst Pfauth

Written by

Cofounder & CEO of The Correspondent. Working to bring our ad-free, reader-funded journalism to the US and beyond.

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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