When The Magazine was announced last year it got a lot of attention for what (after the fact) was an obviously good idea; paring down a digital magazine to a minimal amount of content and then selling it to subscribers for only a few dollars each month.
Craig Mod named it Subcompact Publishing, and today I have encountered an iOS app that takes the idea and turns it on its head. Rather than subscribe to a small publication, DNP lets you subscribe to specific journalists.
I see it as the age-old patronage model being played out on a micro-scale.
The idea for the app grew out of the now-defunct free Dutch newspaper De Pers, which shut down last year when ad revenue could no longer cover operating expenses. It includes a mix of free and paid content, including some stories which are original work and others that have been republished.
The app was developed by Digital Second and ImgZine and is operating under the leadership of De Pers former editor-in-chief, Jan-Jaap Heij, who sees the app as "the journalist as the brand". He goes on to add: "What we believe is that people, journalists, matter more now than media brands. Readers follow journalists, not so much newspapers or media anymore. What we are trying to achieve is a channel approach in which we give journalists the possibility to publish for themselves."
DNP launched with 11 journalists, including some from De Pers, and they have a waiting list of 200 writers who want to join the program. Heij hopes to have 50 writers participating by the end of the year.
The journalists are paid 75% of the subscriptions they generate (after Apple's 30% vig). At the moment the articles are largely text-based, but future plans include adding video and other media as well as selling individual articles. Heij said that "we are thinking about video channels, about photography channels, about literature channels, all sorts of media".
Subscription costs are €1.79 per journalist or you can subscribe for a whole year for €18. You can also subscribe to all the journalists in the app for €4.49 a month or €38 a year.