Before we dive into the second part, I’d like to share the feedback I’ve received from Mark Schiefelbein. He’s a subscriber to this newsletter and works at Revue (the provider of this newsletter). He wrote:
You touch on an interesting topic, and I often find myself torn between two beliefs here. I do believe in free markets, but I also see a lot of that go wrong when you look at the problems around fake news, or also simply the success of media […], that clearly do not uphold necessary journalistic standards.
I’m a bit more optimistic, though, as reliable publishers seem to be successful online for the first time. So I would give the current system a little bit more time to righten itself.
Now, Mark touches on the two beliefs I described in the first issue: the trust in free markets and the confidence in the purpose of journalism. And Mark certainly has a point: We see reliable publishers operating successfully in the digital space. The New York Times,
for example, with their impressive number of subscribers. They just announced that they now have 6 million subscribers
However, smaller markets like Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Denmark that also have a unique language, struggle with either paywalls or advertising-based models. Maybe that’s the reason why we see successful membership-based models as in the Republik, De Correspondent, or Zetland in those countries.
I find the membership model quite intriguing because the reason to buy is not the mere exchange of service (money vs. information) but the editorial vision. Membership models try to rally people behind a purpose. That in itself brings problems if we think about filter bubbles. But if the cause is broad enough (for example: providing quality journalism), different mindsets can still be ready to support the organization.