The Future of Journalism is in Refunds

Dutch jour­nal­ism exper­i­ment, Blendle, on what they’ve learned from their first year of oper­a­tion. It’s a pret­ty inter­est­ing idea: you buy a sub­scrip­tion, read the sto­ries, but if there’s some­thing you don’t like, you can request a refund. What they’ve found is that peo­ple don’t want to pay what they can get for free:

We don’t sell a lot of news in Blendle. Peo­ple do spend mon­ey on back­ground pieces. Great analy­sis. Opin­ion pieces. Long inter­views. Stuff like that. In oth­er words: peo­ple don’t want to spend mon­ey on the ‘what’, they want to spend mon­ey on the ‘why’.

And they don’t want to pay for what they per­ceive as with­out val­ue:

Gos­sip mag­a­zines, for exam­ple, get much high­er refund per­cent­ages than aver­age (some up to 50% of pur­chas­es), as some of them are basi­cal­ly click­bait in print. Peo­ple will only pay for con­tent they find worth their mon­ey. So in Blendle, only qual­i­ty jour­nal­ism starts trend­ing.

They have 250,000 users, and some amaz­ing ana­lyt­ics for how they can grow that num­ber.