The news behind a paywall – a success story from the Netherlands

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are often cited as paywall success stories.  But how are smaller news outlets making paywalls succeed?

In the Netherlands, a news site called De Correspondent set a world record in crowdfunded journalism.

In September 2013 it took just eight days for 15,000 donors to raise over one million Euros.  The site has over 25,000 ‘members’, each of whom pays 5 Euros a month to access the site.

De Correspondent has succeeded because it has brought a fresh approach to digital only journalism.  Elements of its ‘manifesto’ challenge traditional aspects of news journalism.

  • Commercial model – the site is advertisement-free and has a profit ceiling of 5%.  They want to ‘sell content to readers, not readers to advertisers’.
  • Not ‘readers’ but ‘participants’.  The site was created to enable much more than reader comment.  Instead, it has a focus on building relationships between people and acknowledges the expertise of the community.  ‘Dialogue not ‘monologue’
  • A focus on themes and connections – the site moves beyond traditional news categories such as ‘business’ or ‘international’ and instead aims to make sense of a globalised world
  • Like-minded people – not target audiences
  • An emphasis on fact-checking – and emotion

The power of community has been used to fund the site, and to develop its content.  It is also the way in which the word is spread.  De Correspondent limits its advertising to promoting some articles via Facebook.  All other marketing is conducted by the members who share with their friends and followers.

Further reading:  De Correspondent website; GigaOm

About Val Skelton

I am the editor of Information Today, Europe. On the main site, we cover news and publish feature articles by information, research and knoweldge practitioners and thought leaders. On this blog, we aim to cover other topics of interest to our readers.

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