Because The Correspondent is an ad-free journalism platform, we are completely dependent on member contributions. We like it that way, because we only want to be held accountable by those who we make our journalism for, instead of advertisers who merely use journalism to sell their product.
But how did we spend your membership fee? We wanted to map that out for you on our one year anniversary.
Sharing a financial report like this has been a tradition at De Correspondent, our Dutch sibling, for the last seven years. It’s even part of our founding principles: we believe in transparency and self-improvement, and so we are open about “how we spend your money by publishing an annual financial and editorial report”.
The financials we share are always from the previous accounting year. This means you are looking at our 2019 expenses.
Some parts of this report might come across as quite elementary, but we’d rather explain our financials in a bit too much detail than leave you in the dark about how our newsroom is run. Don’t hesitate to ask about anything that still is unclear to you.
So what are the figures?
As a member, you can decide for yourself how much you’d like to contribute to The Correspondent. We believe this Choose What You Pay pricing model is based on trust, inclusivity and solidarity.
This means there’s no set membership fee, so the following pie chart shows in percentage terms how the total sum of membership contributions is being spent:
Editorial expenses (48.9%)
As you can see, almost half of your membership fee goes directly to the people who make the journalism you pay for. This category represents our five full-time correspondents working in different parts of the world: Tanmoy Goswami, Nesrine Malik, Eric Holthaus, OluTimehin Adegbeye and Irene Caselli. The remunerations for our freelancers are also included.
It also represents the editorial team, led by founding editor Rob Wijnberg and managing editor Eliza Anyangwe. They work closely with engagement editor Imogen Champagne (responsible for bringing our journalism to as many people as possible), conversation editor Nabeelah Shabbir (who invites experts to join our conversations with members and organises transnational chats around pressing issues), copy editor Shaun Lavelle, image editor Lise Straatsma and editorial assistant Sabrina Argoub.
This category also includes Dutch-to-English translation costs, so that De Correspondent’s exceptional journalism in the Dutch language, relevant to readers beyond the Netherlands, is available to The Correspondent members. And it includes commissioned photography and illustrations and freelance subs for all our editorial roles based in different time zones.
Technology & design (23.8%)
The Correspondent and De Correspondent both run on the same technology, so development costs are shared between the organisations. However, we also design and build specific features for The Correspondent only – time zone integrations, anyone? – and those costs are included here. Recurring server and security costs are also included in this category. While we’re talking technology, don’t forget to check out your new member-only audio app:
Legal, management & finance (10.8%)
Running a global journalism platform means working together with legal, tax advisors, HR and media law advisors to make sure we adhere to international laws and pay our taxes due in countries around the globe. This category includes fees for accountants who handle our financial administration, lawyers who help us set up free press protection for our correspondents and recruitment fees. The salaries of our management team are also included here.
Membership team (7.1%)
Our Member Support Team works full-time to understand the needs and expectations of members and advocate on their behalf in the newsroom. They also endeavour to answer your questions and other inquiries as soon as possible. The team consists of a Membership Director, Strategist and Analyst whose salary costs are split evenly between The Correspondent and De Correspondent. But we also have a dedicated member support manager for The Correspondent, Carmen Schaack, who many of you will already have had email exchanges with. It also includes freelance subs for Carmen.
Financing expenses (6.4%)
This category includes financing costs. For example, when a member pays their membership fee, we pay a small transaction fee to a payment provider. And since we’re a global platform, we handle transactions in five different currencies, which leads to currency exchange costs. As we are partially financed through loans (more on that later in this report), we also have interest expenses.
Transnational beats can only be pursued if journalists can travel for their stories. In addition, this category also covers the costs of bringing our distributed team together (something that was still a safe thing to do in 2019). As a company policy, The Correspondent offsets carbon emissions tenfold.
With our headquarters in Amsterdam, we share office costs and rent with the Dutch organisation. This keeps our overheads at less than 2%, leaving us more resources to produce actual journalism.
Since we are an advertisement-free publication, all of The Correspondent’s net revenue consists of membership contributions. We started publishing on 30 September 2019, and the total sum of new membership fees that members contributed that year was €124,000 (around $139,000). The average annual membership fee is €43 (around $51) and the average monthly membership fee is €4.20 euros (around $5).
The Correspondent hasn’t reached a break-even point yet, but we are growing rapidly with hundreds of new members joining every month. We are very grateful that we can build upon this momentum thanks to funding by our partners Luminate (founded by The Omidyar Group) and the Dutch Democracy & Media Foundation. They have expressed their faith in transnational journalism by funding us with an additional €800,000 (c. $900,000).
We will use these funds to hire more correspondents and to make more stories available in audio.
Our goal is to build a self-sustaining, fully member-funded journalism platform by the end of 2022, but we can only make that happen if the members who joined us during the 2018 crowdfunding renew their membership this month. If you’re one of these founding members and you haven’t renewed yet, we hope you join us for year two today:
We like to be as transparent as possible about our journalism organisation. After all, you are the ones making it possible.
From this year forward, we will share the financial report of the previous year with you on our 30 September anniversary.
Finally: many thanks for your support and trust.
It’s an honour to build this ever-growing movement for unbreaking news with you!