We have some very sad news to share. As of January 1st 2021, The Correspondent will discontinue publishing its journalism. As a paying member, you will automatically receive a full refund for the remainder of your membership in the first weeks of the new year. All published articles will remain available online, but there will be no new articles from the new year.
We are incredibly grateful for your support.
Here we will explain what led to this decision, and detail how we intend to close The Correspondent in a responsible way.
The decision to discontinue The Correspondent was made due to financial setbacks, making our English language newsroom financially unsustainable. In the past three months we’ve seen a marked increase in membership cancellations, with members often citing increased insecurity in their personal financial situation. The average membership fee paid also lagged behind budgetary needs.
Unfortunately, we were unable to demonstrate the value of The Correspondent’s journalism to a significant enough number of members. With the Covid-19 pandemic dominating headlines non-stop for much of the year, it proved very difficult to offer "unbreaking news" to members in over 140 countries. People want to know from their media source: "Is my kid’s school going to be closed tomorrow and when will I be eligible for a vaccination?" While essential, this is not the kind of journalism we were set up to do. We were focused instead on transnational issues.
We tried, we gave it our all but we didn’t succeed.
We are very sad to say goodbye to the amazing colleagues who make up The Correspondent, and who have done an absolutely amazing job in a year of global unrest. They were a bright shining light in times of increasingly dark headlines, and we are incredibly proud of the journalism they produced, in collaboration with members. We can’t recommend them highly enough to future employers.
The Correspondent’s staff will be offered a severance package and transition fee in accordance with Dutch labour law. Freelance staff will be paid in full for the work that is still to be published between now and the end of the year. The Dutch union for journalists has been informed about the closure of the newsroom. Several Dutch staff members who worked for The Correspondent part-time will continue working for De Correspondent as of January 1st. Our Dutch journalism platform, De Correspondent, is a different and financially healthy entity that will continue its operations.
We want to thank you, all our members, from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us. You have made a dream come true by becoming a member of our ad-free journalism platform and we hope you will continue to support independent media in the future. For inspiration, you can visit the Membership Puzzle Project, a New York University initiative that keeps track of membership-based journalism platforms all around the world.
If you have any questions regarding your membership or related topics, please see the FAQs below. If your question is not answered there, do not hesitate to reach out to us in the comment section, or via firstname.lastname@example.org .
We are now completely focused on winding down The Correspondent in a responsible way. It’s too early for us to properly reflect, but we will do so in the near future and share our lessons learned.
Thank you for being part of this amazing community,
Rob Wijnberg & Ernst-Jan Pfauth, co-founders of The Correspondent
FAQs for members
Why are you discontinuing?
The decision to discontinue The Correspondent was made due to financial setbacks, making our English language newsroom financially unsustainable. We saw a surge in membership cancelations, with members often citing increased insecurity in their personal financial situation. The average membership fee of our choose-what-you-pay-model paid also lagged behind budgetary needs.
How many people are leaving the company?
We sadly have to say goodbye to 10 amazing colleagues. You can see who is part of the team here. If you know of any job opportunities, do reach out to us via email@example.com and we will gratefully pass them on.
When did you inform your employees?
We informed our staff on the morning of 10 December, in a group virtual meeting, and then had conversations with each individual about their severance package and future. Everyone has been given an opportunity to review the offer and reviewed both this letter and the FAQs.
What arrangements do you have for your employees?
The Correspondent’s full-time staff will be offered a severance package and transition fee in accordance with Dutch labour law. Several Dutch staff members who worked for The Correspondent will continue working for De Correspondent as of 1 January 2021.
What are the consequences for your freelance contributors?
Articles that were planned to go online before the end of the year will still be published and paid for in full. Copyrights to all non-published work fully belong to the author, who can publish it freely anywhere else. We will properly compensate authors for any work that has been commissioned but will not be published before 1 January.
What are the consequences for De Correspondent and its staff members?
Most importantly we will miss our The Correspondent colleagues, and the perspectives from all over the world that they brought us. There will be no lay-offs at De Correspondent related to the discontinuation of The Correspondent. Dutch staff members who worked for The Correspondent part time will continue working for De Correspondent as of January 1st, 2021.
Could the discontinuation have been prevented?
We explored every alternative scenario we could think of to continue our English language platform, including continuing with a smaller team, proposing salary cuts and merging The Correspondent with its Dutch sister site, De Correspondent. Unfortunately, none of the scenarios turned out to be financially feasible.
When and how will I get my refund?
Your membership ends on January 1, 2021. We will start refunding you and other members from the first week of 2021 onwards. This will happen automatically. You don’t have to take any action for this.
Here’s how your refund is calculated:
When you have a yearly membership which was activated or renewed on, say, September 30, 2020 your membership will be active up and including 31 December 2020. The remaining time (counted in days) being 1 January 2021 - 29 September 2021 will be automatically refunded to you.
When you have a monthly membership which you started or renewed on, say, December 7th 2020 your membership will be active up and including 31 December 2020. The remaining time (counted in days) being 1 January 2021 - 6 January 2021 will be automatically refunded to you.
I don’t want a refund. Is that possible too?
That is very kind of you, thank you, but we will refund all our members. If you want to support independent journalism ventures like ours in the future, you can visit the Membership Puzzle Project, a New York University initiative that keeps track of all membership based journalism platforms around the world, for inspiration.
I want to keep supporting you, can I cancel my refund?
Thank you so much for your support.
Some of our members have been discussing ideas around organizing another crowdfunding campaign, or how you are willing to pay more, or are offering to waive your rights to a refund. I can’t express how much this means to us.
However, a combination of scenarios means we couldn’t indeed make The Correspondent work. This included:
- The fact that only 27% of founding members renewed their memberships
- The average membership fee dropped
- There was an increase in membership cancellations for the members who joined after our launch in late September 2019
These, three individual worst-case scenarios came into play all at the same time.
Unfortunately, after weeks of exploring solutions and new strategies, we came to the conclusion that none of these were financially feasible. I hear you when you say we could have included you at this stage of the process, but that’s also why we couldn’t find an opportunity to involve you, our members.
This is because the combination of factors would have led to such a large financial gap in our budget for 2021. We wouldn’t have been able to make ends meet, even if every current member doubled their membership fee.
Thank you all so much for your support in that time, and for your support now. It means a lot to us all here at The Correspondent (and there never would have been The Correspondent in the first place if it weren’t for members).
Do you have to discontinue due to Covid-19?
The pandemic does play a significant role, yes. With Covid-19 dominating the headlines non-stop for the past year, it proved very difficult to offer "unbreaking news" to members in over 140 countries. People want to know from their media source: "Is my kid’s school going to be closed tomorrow and when will I be eligible for a vaccination?" While essential, this is not the kind of journalism we were set up to do. We were focused instead on transnational issues.
Does this type of journalism only work in The Netherlands?
During the crowdfunding campaign that made it possible to launch The Correspondent, members from over 130 countries joined our unbreaking news community. So, yes, we definitely think that there’s a market and a need for this type of journalism. Sadly, we were not able to make it work in this climate, but we applaud our journalism friends all over the world who do. Please visit the Membership Puzzle Project, a New York University initiative , for an overview of all membership-based journalism platforms around the world.
What do the ambassadors of your 2018 crowdfunding campaign think of the discontinuation of The Correspondent?
We have informed our ambassadors via email or phone call about this sad news. We can’t speak on their behalf and we remain very grateful for their support.
Didn’t you have investors?
Yes, The Democracy and Media Foundation and Luminate. We are immensely grateful for the support they have given us, in good times and bad. We applaud their mission to support independent media all over the world and we’re proud to have been part of their impressive network of journalism organisations.
Have you informed the union about the lay-offs?
The Dutch union for journalists was informed on Wednesday 9 December 2020 about the discontinuation of the newsroom. In The Netherlands, the union is the ‘Nederlandse Vereniging voor Journalisten’. We have shared with the union that The Correspondent is stopping for financial reasons.
After refunding the members and paying severance packages to staff members, is there any money left?
Yes, all of the remaining cash will be used to pay our creditors. There is no money going back to the founders of The Correspondent.
What will happen with the website on 1 January 2021?
As of the new year, we will stop publishing new articles. All articles and audio stories published during the existence of The Correspondent will remain publicly accessible. Other than that, the website will remain online for archival reasons.
What happens to the audio app?
Members can still download the audio app until we cease publishing. We will remove it from the Apple and Android app stores on January 1, 2021. The audio journalism will remain accessible on the website.
What will happen to the member comments?
While all articles and audio stories will remain publicly accessible, member comments will not. Member comments were made in the context of a community and have been visible to members only. Since memberships will end on January 1, 2021, these comments will not be accessible any longer.
Will you restart The Correspondent at some point?
We have no plans nor any intentions of relaunching The Correspondent. We gave it our all, and we didn’t succeed. We have launched several other projects in the past that didn’t succeed and we have also launched new endeavours successfully. Experimenting with new things is part of our DNA and we’ll keep doing so in the future.
What have you learned from this?
We are now completely focused on winding The Correspondent down in a responsible way. It’s too early for us to properly reflect on the past few years of setting up and running The Correspondent. We will, however, do so in the near future and share our lessons learned.
Is your question not listed above? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org