How The Correspondent plans to handle audience engagement

The Correspondent has revealed a little bit about how it's going to be run — and where its money is going.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

A few weeks ago, The Correspondent — the crowd-funded, member-supported offshoot of De Correspondent that's had a rocky start — published a breakdown of its costs and it makes for interesting reading.

A couple of things caught my attention:

Paying freelancers

Unlike much of traditional media where freelancers are paid per article, at The Correspondent, because we place value on our members’ questions, knowledge, and experience, we want our freelancers to engage with you, in much the same way we expect our staff correspondents to. This means freelancers will more likely be working on time-bound projects, receiving a monthly wage during that period, rather than submitting one-off pieces in response to news events.

The "word count" rate has remained powerfully entrenched into the business model of most journalism operations. And, of course, it makes very little sense at all in the digital age, where a good article could consist of a mix of images, embers, videos and more. Commissioning based on time — be it time to create or time to consume — makes a lot more sense.

Audience engagement job roles

The editorial team will be led by managing editor Eliza Anyangwe, and will work closely with an engagement editor (responsible for bringing our journalism to as many people as possible), a conversation editor (who will invite members to join the conversation), a copy editor, and an image editor.

The split of audience engagement into what me might term reach — the engagement editor — and interaction — the conversation editor — is an interesting one. I'm not sure how convinced I am that they should be separate roles, as conversation is a key driver of reach. But it still shows that they are taking engagement seriously at all levels.

I'm less convinced that the split of copy editor and an image editor is a good plan - that's very "print"y, seeing words and pictures as the only two options. Still, this is the first thing I've seen from the fledgling site that piques my interest. I'll be watching more closely after this.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.