13 Rob Wijnberg

The Correspondent

News as we know it leaves us cynical, divided, and less informed. But what to do about it? Rob Wijnberg, a founding member of The Correspondent, had a vision: Unbreaking news! With an online platform shifting the focus from the sensational to the foundational, he created the antidote to our daily news grind.

Putting journalism before financial gains and not taking ad dollars of any kind you as a reader have the power to decide how much you pay for as a membership fee. Today, over 50,000 members from 130+ countries form a community committed to collaborative journalism. In this episode, we talk about the role of news, the company's founding principles that guide every decision, and why getting fired can be a good thing.

Rob: Journalism very much is a moral business. Obviously, there's economics involved. You have to make money somehow to sustain yourself. But it is much more a moral business than anything else. So articulating your moral outlook basically is an obvious place to start for me.

Simon: Hi. You're listening to The Idealists. I'm Simon. Together with my co-host Silja, we explore the new narrative in business. We talk to people who lead by example and sometimes become role models for their entire industry — like Rob Wijnberg, for example.

Silja: Think about your daily news grind. It's probably a mix of websites, social media feeds and the occasional newspaper. One thing they all have in common? They're paid by advertisers. And when your news anchor is in the business of grabbing your attention, you optimize for sensationalism.

Simon: Rob was pretty frustrated, so he and his team started working on an antidote back in 2013. Rob, who studied philosophy in Amsterdam and shortly after became the youngest Editor in Chief of Netherland's premier daily newspaper, had a vision: Unbreaking news. The Correspondent is an online platform offering high-quality journalism and aiming to shift focus from the sensational to the foundational.

Silja: A news platform that optimizes for trust instead of clicks seemed somewhat utopian. So we asked Rob: Is it offensive to call you an idealist?

Rob: No, not at all. No. I actually very much agree with your tagline that you just explained where idealism is somehow seen as naivité or something like that. If you look closely, idealists are usually a little bit frontrunners on what actually becomes realism decades later. So no, it's a compliment for me.

Simon: Great. So we're not going to be kicked out immediately?

Rob: No.

Simon: And talking about frontrunning, you founded this whole thing in 2013. And this was more of a Dutch venture because you have a big background in Dutch media, I would say. And now in 2019, you are relaunching that or building something upon it.

Rob: Yeah.

Simon: Just run us through very quickly: If you talk about frontrunning, what was that in 2013 which you set out to do?

Rob: For me and what I'm doing with De Correspondent started a little bit before we actually launched De Correspondent because I was Editor in Chief of a daily print newspaper before that from 2010 to 2012. And basically, we tried to do two things there. One is redefining news in a way that gives you more insight into how the world actually works. Instead of focusing on sensational, exceptional events that go on all the time but don't really tell you about structural, fundamental, foundational issues. Because news, in a sense, gives you a picture of the world of all the things that are not happening every day. They're happening today, but they're not happening every day. And because they're not happening every day, they're not as influential as the news makes them out to be. So that was one thing I tried to change while being Editor in Chief of the print newspaper. And the other thing which was harder to change because it was on print mostly. Try to make use of the knowledge and experience and expertise of readers. Over a century, journalism has been a one-way street. We find the facts, or we find the story. Then we write the story, or we make a TV item out of it. We tell you the story. That's it. We go home. But there's an enormous amount of untapped knowledge and rich experience amongst your audience. And we don't like the word audience because "audience" is a passive consumer kind of attitude. We tried to tap into that knowledge to benefit our journalism, which obviously brings us to be online because it's much easier to do it online than on print to communicate with your readers. So we tried to do that at the newspaper. I got fired.

Simon: Because of that or was that… did you do try to change that within the organization?

Rob: Basically. Yeah, basically. Well, it boiled down to an ideological difference about what news should be about. When I was fired, they said we need more news in the newspaper. And I was like; we have news in the newspaper. It's just not the news you're used to or that you can kind of see everywhere.

Simon: Right.

Rob: And it was quite successful. So when I left the newspaper, a lot of subscribers to the newspaper kind of went with me. So I left the newspaper, and that's when we started De Correspondent in the Netherlands with a crowd-funding, because also we knew two things. We wanted to be ad-free because that gives you a very different business model that allows you not to chase clicks, but to establish a new sort of relationship with your reader. And yeah, we knew it had to be online. So we did a crowd-funding in 2013, set a world record in journalism crowd-funding, which we were very proud of, raised 1.3 million euros in a month and then started our platform. We started with almost 19000 founding members. So that were the people who joined before we were live. And now in the Netherlands, we have a little over 60000 members that joined.

Simon: How is it possible to go from a kind of employee role with such a great amount of people supporting you? How did you build up this recognition or audience or people following you and supporting that?

Rob: I wrote a lot about media in the newspaper. I was kind of well-known as the editor because I also was the youngest Editor in Chief in Europe of a national newspaper. I was 27 when I became Editor in Chief. So that helped. Also, my firing was in the news. So sometimes news helps. Here's what sparked the idea in the first place. When I was at the newspaper, the one thing that struck me most was how interesting my colleagues were; how interesting the stories they talked about at the coffee machine or the water cooler were and then how boring the newspaper they made was. There was just a huge difference. And my idea was: if you give journalists more autonomy and more freedom to write what they really think is important, instead of having them chase whatever is in the news, as it is called, you'll get much more investigative, much more interesting, much more engaging journalism. So that was basically my model. When I started De Correspondent, I asked journalists or writers, and not just journalists, also other professions to join. And I said, well, here you go. What do you think we need to talk about, write about, etc.? And from that starting point came the most intriguing stories, because there was no concept in journalism that a lot of non-journalist don't know about. But almost all traditional news journalism has to have a hook, as it is called. It has to be something that happened today or some person from the elite saying something or a report coming out. 80%, 85% of news is events. Most of them also staged events like press conferences, etc. That's the reason why you can talk about it in the newspaper. But if you leave out that hook, you can tell very different stories that might not seem current in the traditional sense of the word but are very current for people's lives. Right? There is no reason to talk about sugar addiction on a day to day basis, but it is a very prominent phenomena all over the world. It's the reason why most people die in the world, actually. So if you fundamentally change the premise of news, you can talk about very different things.

Simon: And with that kind of funding on board and the people you want to invite to that journey: How was that first year when just focusing on the Dutch system, media market?

Rob: Crazy, basically. One reason why it's crazy: we had no idea what we were doing. We knew what we wanted, and we knew why we wanted to do it. There were not many leading examples. And this is six years ago. So a lot changed. Like there are many great online-only journalism platforms that focus on different kinds of news and information. But back then, especially in the Netherlands, not many examples. Online was dominated by traditional media. The traditional media was doing the same thing as they were doing for 150 years. So we were just doing whatever we thought was necessary. And it worked for many reasons. But I think the most prominent reason is we really tried to reestablish the relationship with readers. And that's why we don't call our readers subscribers. We call them members. And there's a subtle difference. Subscribers pay for a product to get the product, to get access to exclusive content or something like that. Members join your cause, which is a very different mindset. First of all, they become a member because they support the kind of journalism you do, the outlook you have, the things you want to investigate, the things you find important, the things you find less important, etc.. That's why they join. And then actually joining has a double meaning because they can also join in different ways, not just by paying and reading, but they can join by helping, figuring stuff out, sharing their day to day experiences at their jobs. Stuff like that. So you get a different sense of "what you are subscribing to" if the very definition of the relationship is different. So I think that's a big part of what was new.

Simon: And that was part of the DNA from the start?

Rob: From the start. Now it's much more common. You've seen many different platforms do such a thing and also involve readers in journalism.

Silja: More community building.

Rob: Community building, yes. But back then, it was still very much the traditional media model of having advertisers who basically pay for the product. And then most of the news is for free. You just consume it whenever you want. And that's why clicks and page views became so important. All those things became so important we tried to really differentiate ourselves from that, and there were not many examples. So we were just trying to see what worked and what didn't work.

Simon: Building that community on the way. Apparently, it caught on. We're sitting here years later.

Rob: Apparently, yeah.

Simon: And you also launched the international version in English. Tell us a bit more about the differences between the two — or the similarities between those two.

Rob: The similarities are 90% because it's based on the same founding principles. It's ad-free. We're transparent about our world view instead of pretending to be objective, which is still very much a common ideal in journalism. We focus on the same kind of foundational issues instead of the incidents of the day. We are author-centred. So the name The Correspondent refers to this. There is an author, a person there who investigates something with you because he or she finds it important to investigate. It's not just "this is in the news". We don't have beats like foreign news, economy or sports or whatever. Topics that kind of also convey the reasons why the journalist is interested in the first place.

Simon: And your correspondents have titles like "for sanity" and "for climate" and "for numerary". So that is kind of more on a meta-level than focusing on those traditional kinds of silos of news.

Rob: Exactly. Also because it's trying to shift the perspective on the world a little bit, if it's, I don't know, mental health, that would be a more traditional way of framing it. If you say sanity, there's a different ring to it. There's a different perspective. So those are the similarities. Obviously, the biggest difference is that it is in a different language and English is a much bigger language than Dutch. Our potential reach is much, much bigger in English. And also, it's a way to do transnational journalism based on the idea that if you really look at the foundational developments in the world, a lot of them are not bound to nations anymore. Climate change is not bound to nations. Protests are not bound to nations. Politics isn't bound to nations. Money isn't bound to nations anymore. So if you really want to describe the world as it is, there has to be some kind of transnational aspect to it. And it's much easier to do in an in a language that is transnational like English. So one of the biggest differences is also we get input from all over the world, which broadens your perspectives on issues a lot like if you talk from a Dutch national perspective of climate change. There's just so much you can say. But if you do it in English and you have experts from all over the world. And experts could also be like a farmer from Norway or a scientist from Peru or something like that, and they join the conversation, then the whole kinds of stories you can tell are very different.

Silja: Can you tell us a little bit more about the founding principles? You mentioned that before. I think it's quite special to communicate it as you do it. Can you explain a little bit more how this came about?

Rob: Yeah, I think it's really weird that it is special. Because, to me, it was the most obvious place to start when I founded De Correspondent. Why do we want this to be here? So the founding principles articulate the why. Basically, they also articulate a little bit about how. But it's the values that we are founded on. And I think a lot of companies could benefit from such an idea about why they're in existence, but especially journalism, media companies, because journalism very much is a moral business. Obviously, there's economics involved. You have to have you have to make money somehow to sustain yourself. But it is much more a moral business than anything else. So articulating your moral outlook basically is an obvious place to start for me. So it's weird, and I mean that there aren't these values implicit in a lot of media companies, a lot of traditional newspapers. They are usually quite vague: Quality. Or protecting democracy or something like that.

Silja: It can be super abstract.

Rob: Yes, it can be super abstract and also quality… like any newspaper will tell you, they have quality.

Simon: Generic.

Rob: Ultimately, it's very generic. So articulating more specifically what we are about was for me, a very obvious thing to do. And especially because if you want people to join whatever you're doing for some reason and pay for it, then that has to be absolutely clear. And I think a lot of distrust in media that you see all over the world stems from basically two things. One, it's not clear what these newspaper or these media platform or whatever stands for. And then also they stand for something. You cannot not stand for something. There always is an ideology or a world view in place. You can't view the world without a perspective. So the whole idea of objectivity saying, no, no, we're neutral, we don't have a perspective. We just give you the facts. You make up your minds about them, or something like that feeds into this distrust because you just deny constantly or implicitly that you have a moral outlook, which is a weird thing for me to do because the moral outlook is what is the starting point of all journalism. You're not covering crime or terrorism just because it happens. You cover it because you think it's bad or you think it's noteworthy or you think it has to stop or you think it's injustice or something like that. So starting with your sense of injustice or whatever allows the reader or member or subscriber the opportunity to say this is the kind of journalism, I think the world needs. And I will support.

Simon: And talking about the principles. When you are as clear about your principles as you are, what's happening is that your members call you out on that, right?

Rob: Totally. Yes. And they should.

Simon: Yeah. And maybe that's probably a reason why other businesses refrain from that because that's an additional risk that, you know, they can get called out on what they once said, you know.

Rob: Maybe could be. But it's also the other way round. It's also mitigating the risk in the sense that you can also refer to your founding principles as justifications for what you do or don't do. So it just brings some clarity to the discussion. And you see a lot of like when newspapers or other media are criticized, they feel attacked. And I have to say; there is a small portion of criticism that is really just attacking media for the worst reasons. I mean, for example, in the United States, the polarization towards media, fake news, blah blah blah. That's just the political fight that's being fought. But a lot of criticism, you can actually learn something from it. And maybe if the attacks or the criticism keep coming, you need a better answer or engage in more dialogue about why you do what you do. So it gives you the opportunity. It's a risk, but it also gives you an opportunity to be transparent to the people who criticize you.

Simon: Can you give us an example when a situation like this arose? When you said, okay, yes, we set out to do this, and now they call us out on that?

Rob: Oh, well, it kind of happens all the time. On the platform below every piece. I mean, not nonstop. If a piece is really good, then people will compliment you for it. But if a piece is not as good, they will say, well, is this really a foundational issue you're talking about? Or you are actually overhyping like other media? Or for example, one of our founding principles is that we fight stereotypes because news is all about stereotypes and not just race or gender, but also like politicians or the elite or whatever. And it's really difficult to dismantle stereotypes and not use them as well. Because they're stereotypes for a reason, they become very common.

Simon: And it's part of our communication. It makes communication possible in a way.

Rob: Exactly. So sometimes we're called out on that, like, are you peddling a stereotype yourself here? Or what is the basis for your wording or stuff like that? And also, we call ourselves out on it. We are strictly ad-free, so we can't do any partnerships. There are a lot of partnerships based on, well, if I do this for you, then you will give me some media attention. But we can't do that. So it's a constant kind of mirror for ourselves also to see: Does this coincide with the principles we uphold?

Simon: Let's talk about the relationship with your members; it's also about how you do business. Right? And to make this very clear. You say to your members; you can pay us anything you can afford, I think is the wording.

Rob: Yeah, on the international version.

Simon: On the international one. How is it in the Dutch one?

Rob: It's seven euros a month or seventy euros a year. So there it's a fixed price. But we thought internationally, I mean, it's almost impossible to find a fixed price that is affordable to anyone.

Simon: And what led to the decision to make it up to the people to decide what is news worth to them?

Rob: Well, basically three things. We trust people that they pay a fair amount, which they do. Second, it's fairer in the sense that anyone can join. So, for example, we just had an email from a student from Hong-Kong, I think, who said: Hey, I became a member for $1. I'm sorry. He said it's not much, but it's all I can afford. But when I have more money to spend, I will raise my membership fee. So the alternative was he can't afford it so he won't join. Now he joined, and although $1 is not much, it's something, and the threshold is paying something. Basically, you have to understand that if you want to keep news or journalism independent, not run by ads or stuff like that, then you have to pay yourself. That's the premise. How much you pay, however, is basically a mixture of how much you think it's worth and how much you can afford. So in the end, the mean is pretty much the same because some people pay a lot more. Some people pay a lot less. So there's an element of solidarity there. If you can afford 200$ or 500$ a year, then you allow other people to pay a little less, which is a beautiful system.

Simon: As you say, it's a beautiful concept. And even more beautiful if someone kind of risks to go that way and is rewarded with "okay, we can run a sustainable business up on that layer of trust".

Rob: Yeah. It's also maybe… this ties to a more fundamental kind of part of our DNA. And actually we just we published a book. From one of our most-read authors, Rutger Bregmans, called "de meeste mensen deugen", which means most people are good. Something like that. It's not a great translation. In Dutch, it sounds better. But I mean, people can do bad things, but most people do the right thing in most situations. So here's the basic premise: Distrust of the media is also kind of affected by doubting your audience, right? This is how we phrase it internally often: if you optimize for trust, not clicks, not ads, not revenue or something. But if you optimize for trust, what would your model or your practices look like? And this is one of those things where you say, well, if you assume that people will do what they think is right and is best for you, leave them the freedom and autonomy to do it, then they will, basically. And it shows because people pay what they think is fair.

Silja: Do you think it helped not to have a legacy and be a challenger and new in the media scene back then? So you get the first chance and then you can walk the walk and show them "we're different"?

Rob: Totally, a crucial ingredient that you cannot underestimate. We tried to do several of these "new things" at a traditional newspaper, and it was hard because you were always competing with practices that everybody already knew. So that's one. And also if it became successful, then usually it was to a bigger disadvantage of something else in the company. So a lot of new ideas or innovation in a traditional structure get beaten down because of two things. Either it's not successful enough, and they stop it, or it's very successful, and then it becomes a threat internally, basically. So not having any legacy, not having the way we do things is a crucial ingredient to trying new things. And also, crowdfunding is a great way to raise money.

It's not a business model in and of itself, but it's a great way to start. Because here you have 10k or 15k or in our case, 19k people who say: Go, show me. Here's my trust, basically, which allows you to do things that are not proven yet. You're not sure it will work. And if you have to go to an investor. He wants some guarantees. He wants to see a business model or a business plan. And he wants to know in what quarter the earnings will become higher or when there will be profit, etc. If you have a membership that is not interested in return on investment except for great journalism and they give you some money to try, it frees up all kinds of pressures that allow you to do things that are really new, not just sound new, but they are really new. And that is very hard because people obviously tend to buy into or recognise or stick to the things they know inherently. Like it's not a conservative, progressive thing or something like that. People just do that.

Simon: It's a human thing.

Rob: It's a human thing. Right.

Silja: And do you then think… Do you believe in transformation?

Rob: In what sense?

Silja: For example, that traditional media companies can change?

Rob: They can change, but they're usually forced to change. They rarely change because of themselves. There are all kinds of pressures that change them. I don't want to put a number on it, but like half of them will change because they won't survive. That's their change. They will disappear. And it's also like, you know, the window of overtone. Have you heard of it? It's actually your tagline. What seems radical in the beginning pushes the boundaries of what becomes normal in the end. Everything that is status quo right now was completely out of order and radical at some point in history. So basically this happens with companies or institutions or media platforms and stuff like that as well. Yeah, it's the same logic, I think.

Simon: And staying with the business model here for a second. You also said that you have this 5% dividend cap on your business, which means that if you think it through it from a Silicon Valley mindset, it's kind of madness to put a cap on a dividend or make that not a potentially disrupting a company. What led to the decision? And you also have investors on board, though. And I think one is Luminate, which is from the founder of eBay. The for-profit and not-for-profit fund is supporting your company as well. Can you maybe talk about that decision to make that cap and the other way around to also be able to get that, you know, runway funding on board?

Rob: Sure. First of all, we are a for-profit company and deliberately so. We don't want to be a charity. There are great charities, but we don't think journalism should be a charity in a philosophical sense of worth. It's not something you give to, I don't know, just for moral sentiments or at Christmas or something like that. It also has to deliver something. There is a commercial, economic logic in place that it has to give you at least a product or a platform or a story that you wanted to pay for outside of moral obligations or whatever. So, a for-profit company. Yet, we did a dividend cap of 5%, and it's pretty symbolic because we've never taken any profits. All the profits have been invested back into journalism. So on paper, we act as a charity because there are no profits to shareholders. And also our investors are non-profits that don't expect returns. They want us to exist basically, and they helped us into existence. But the profit cap ensures that we are not interesting at all to investors that are only in it for the return on their investments. I've seen this up close where an investor took over the newspaper I was working at and then started demanding higher returns every year. I mean, the short term result is very predictable. You fire people to lower costs because it's very hard to make a higher and higher profit on investigative journalism in the first place. It's not a very profitable business. If you want to get rich, then you should sell refrigerators or something like that. Not investigative journalism. Actually, it's very much a public service because it's like health care or like education. The better you do, the more inefficient it becomes. Health care is well-served by having a lot of attention to your patient a lot of time; you can't make having time.

Simon: Hard to optimise it.

Rob: Yeah, you can make it more efficient. So in a sense, journalism is the same. The more time you have, the more you can investigate something, the less efficient it becomes. So having an investor pressure of that kind is a very bad thing, I think, for journalism. Having no pressure at all, that's why we are a for-profit company, having no pressure of thinking about how we can be valuable beyond a charity for our members. You should have some of it. So you end up exactly in the middle. You are a for-profit company. You look at your journalism also as a business case, but not something that maximises profits in the end. It's profitable, but not maximising profits.

Simon: And that is maybe for the last topic very closely then, I think, related to the way it is set up technologically. Because, in the beginning, you talked about doing journalism differently with the medium internet. And I think one way where this whole news vicious cycle started was that we had algorithms in place who were kind of denouncing the opinion on what is newsworthy and not, you know. There was an emphasis on what is surprising, what's outrageous, what is cute, you know, just put it into the extremes. And from a technological point of view, how would you say, are you working that differently because you have to curate or show your articles somehow as well? Right?

Rob: Well, so many ways, but is a very complicated question. But let me try to be as concise as possible. First of all, the idea that the internet made journalism about, I don't know, going viral, etc. by emphasising the sensational stuff … it's not the internet. I mean, that was in journalism all along; in ad-driven journalism. It just made it more transparent how successful you were at it. You could see more instantly if something was read or not read, etc..

Simon: The return.

Rob: Yeah, exactly. So because it made it more transparent, it made it more important in a sense. But the idea of reaching as many people as possible is in ad-driven journalism from the beginning. So sensationalism is not a new thing. It got worse because of the algorithms, but it was already in place in a sense. So a lot of things that we tried to do to differentiate ourselves from those pressures you see online. One is we have a very strict privacy policy. So the trends, almost anywhere in the world, especially media, is collect as much data about your readers and all users as possible. We don't do that. We don't want any privacy-sensitive demographic information about you. Not just because it's private, but also it will steer you towards reaching affluence, 35-year-olds that I don't know — something like that.

Simon: So you write for them in the beginning, in the first place then.

Rob: Well, you always write for somebody. There's always a choir you're preaching. If you're preaching and journalism in a sense is preaching, then there will be a choir. But most data-driven companies turn it around. They say, okay, let's find out everything about our audience or choir and then do that. Bad idea! So that's a mindset we don't have. We try to be independent of our audience by not trying to serve them, whatever they're asking. That's one. And a second thing, which is also important is we try to emphasise at any possible juncture on our platform and outside of our platform. You have a different role on our platform than just consuming and spreading the news. So, for example, we have a soft paywall. As a member, you can go on the platform. You can see everything. You can share any article that we write. If you're not a member, you can read every article that is shared'. It says "This article has been given to you as a gift by a paying member." And then the name of the member. So if you want, you don't have to pay anything you can read everything. But there is a sense of, hey, there's somebody who paid for it and gave it to you. Basically, that's one way. The other way as people can add their expertise. I'm not just commenting or giving my opinion, which is usually quite polarising. Now we emphasise, please give what you know more. Please share your experience with us so we can use this, which creates a very different atmosphere. So if you look at comment sections on social media or other news platforms …

Silja: That is the worst.

Rob: It's the worst. And I mean, that's because if you know something valuable, interesting, you have the experience, you have the expertise and you share it there. What happens? You're either crowded out by people who think they know, but they don't. And the journalist is not there. They're not using it. There's no dialogue. So what do you end up with? People who want to talk anyway, regardless of its effects, basically. So if you change the very attitude, for example, journalists being in the comments sections from the start, engaging with people, asking questions, using the information that is shared there, then the whole atmosphere becomes a very different one. So my point is that it's not a given how social media or the internet works. Or how it evolves, which direction it goes into. It's also a choice, or a design and an attitude that goes with it; that makes it go one way or the other. So I think we can do a lot to get back on track of the initial promise of the internet, which was very different than what it turned out to be by also kind of changing the parameters, the criteria and the design of platforms like ours to serve different, less polarising or more collaborative purposes than we have right now. That's just basically a choice. But all about it already starts with the business model, obviously. If you're Facebook and your business model is selling ads, then you have very different incentives to build tools than if you don't have ads. The only thing we want to think about is how do we make collaboration online even more feasible?

Simon: What is the ideal future for The Correspondent?

Rob: A lot of people ask me: How many members do you think you can have or something? I think it's a very strange question because it's kind of like, you know, it will end somewhere. It's like dying. You know, you'll die, but you don't ask somebody how old do you think you're going to be? Nobody wants to think about that. So my ideal future is to grow the community of members, obviously. To build on the foundational promises we give them, which is to build in a place online where you don't share outrage; where you don't share indignation; where you don't share hate or sensationalism or all those kinds of stuff. But where you are able to share knowledge about how the world works in order for us to understand more deeply how the world works. And because of that understanding, having more power to shape where the world is going. It's very much, and I wrote a piece about this on why we consider ourselves to be a progressive platform, not necessarily in the sense of a political like left-leaning platform, but a progressive platform nonetheless. Because we believe that progress is driven by a deepening understanding of how the world functions, and we believe that this understanding deepens if you share knowledge between people. That's how our species, human beings, became such a force on the planet. We are the best sharers of information. So building a journalistic environment where that is the essence hopefully will make for a better world because of it.

Simon: Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, rate the show on Apple Podcasts, follow us on Spotify or maybe just tell someone about it. You can find all episodes on www.theidealists.co! As always, here's our last question: Who should we talk to next?

Rob: I have two in mind. One, his name is Pieter Zwart, and he is the founder of Coolblue. And Coolblue is basically the Dutch Amazon. It's much smaller, obviously than Amazon. Now, this might seem like why would you ask the founder of a household appliances company for The Idealists? He has a very different world view than we just discussed, but very much the same in other respects. So he looks at the world in a completely consumer-oriented, data-driven way. No founding principles or whatever, but his slogan is something like "everything for a smile". He just sells smiles. If you smile when you shop at him, then that's it. That's his only reason. The other is a friend of The Correspondent, a friend of mine as well: Alexander Klöpping who you might know as the founder of Blendle. And Blendle is a media company that wants to be the Spotify of news. So they are a kiosk. Their mission is there is enough journalism already. He told me you don't need to make new journalism. There is enough journalism out there. But it's not accessible to most people, especially people who have grown up online. So he has a kiosk model of journalism, which is very successful. Also a very different mindset, but the same journalistic ideals behind it.

„Journalism is very much a moral business. Obviously, there's economics involved. You have to make money somehow to sustain yourself. But it is much more a moral business than anything else.“

— Rob Wijnberg [00:15:45]

  1. 14 Frances Shoemack


  2. 13 Rob Wijnberg

    The Correspondent

  3. 12 Matt Orlando

    Amass Restaurant

  4. 11 Mihela Hladin Wolfe


  5. 10 Tuomas Toivonen


  6. 9 Jan Vapaavuori

    City of Helsinki

  7. 8 Carel Neuberg


  8. 7 Mariah Mansvelt Beck


  9. 6 Taco Carlier


  10. 5 Nathan Gilbert

    B Lab Europe

  11. 4 Klaus Thomsen

    Coffee Collective

  12. 3 Henrik Marstrand


  13. 2 Maximilian Strecker

    Consortium Purpose

  14. 1 Christian Paul Kägi