Misplaced Anger about The Correspondent

created Mar 29, 2019

Man, the outrage expressed by journalists and news hounds about this week's announcement by The Correspondent that it will not open an office in New York City has reached absurd levels.

The Correspondent is a relatively new news org that began early this decade. New businesses will make mistakes. Old businesses still make mistakes.

A few related stories:

http://www.niemanlab.org/2019/03/the-correspondents-editor-in-chief-talks-about-what-u-s-expansion-means-and-doesnt-an-office/

http://pressthink.org/2019/03/yep-the-correspondent-screwed-up-in-its-communications-with-members-heres-how-it-happened/

https://mediagazer.com/190328/p15#a190328p15

https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/crowdfunding-correspondent-office.php

In July 2018, The Correspondent clearly stated that it had or would open a New York City headquarters and office for its new employees. Since the employees were or would be journalists, then I assumed that the HQ and office would be a newsroom. They never called it a campaign office.

But that mention of an HQ office before their crowdfunding initiative, which happened at the end of 2018 or back in the winter. During the fall and winter months, The Correspondent people decided that a physical office was unnecessary in the U.S., which makes sense, especially considering NYC real estate prices.

The Correspondent never said that it would open a U.S.-only news org. Looking through old posts, made by The Correspondent and "ambassadors" of the org, the goal has been to open an English-language news org, which would be worldwide. That's still their mission. That part has not changed.

If Americans inferred that English-language equaled U.S.-only, then obviously, that's flawed thinking.

The only change is not opening a physical office in NYC. I guess that The Correspondent team should have mentioned this fact back in the fall or conveyed their thoughts much earlier about possibly backtracking on the idea of an office.

Not having a physical office makes sense. If I had the funds to launch a local, digital media startup that covered the Toledo area with an initial team of only 5 to 10 employees, I would most likely start without a physical office. Why would an office be needed when the reporters would use their smartphones, laptops, and shoes and work from wherever?

I misinterpreted The Correspondent's intentions, possibly because of bad reporting by media orgs who follow the media. But it's clear that The Correspondent planned an English-language org and not a U.S.-only news org.

The confusion was the plan to open a NYC office as mentioned last summer. I guess that I'm like the other whiny, archaic-thinking knuckleheads who assume that a physical space implies focused-coverage on the region or country that hosts the physical space.

I'm still interested to see what The Correspondent will do. I like their "slow news movement" principles. The ankle-biters will continue to nip. But the news at all levels needs needs to try new things. I'll continue to follow and root for The Correspondent.

The Correspondent hosts its blog at Medium. Here is their July 2018 post.

https://medium.com/de-correspondent/zainab-shah-joins-correspondent-next-up-managing-editor-a090604e4462

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

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.

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.

The Correspondent still has the goal of creating an English-language news org for a global audience.

Here's probably where the confusion began. From the same July 2018 post:

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.

What we offer

An NYC office on 37 W 20th St.

That seemed like a wast of money.

December 2018 post:

https://medium.com/de-correspondent/the-correspondent-hits-its-crowdfunding-goal-of-2-5m-1fc6a1597fb1

The Correspondent concludes crowdfunding campaign and raises $2.6 million thanks to 45,888 members from more than 130 countries

If it was a U.S.-only news org, would their crowdfunding campaign receive money from 130 countries?

Mar 25, 2019 post:

https://medium.com/de-correspondent/an-update-from-amsterdam-heres-how-we-re-building-the-correspondent-f2c5012e6a9c

The one concern is growing from a news org that covers the Netherlands to supporting an English-speaking global audience. That seems like a gargantuan leap.

Maybe the next step should have been a bit smaller, such as creating a news org that covered the United Kingdom. Then over more time, expand to a global audience.

But we shall see. I'm curious.

Apr 26, 2019

NiemanLab.org story