Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

How De Correspondent Is Revolutionising Online Journalism

Associations, Award Shows and Festivals
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Momkai’s Harald Dunnink on Dutch Digital Design and turning journalism into conversation

With the proliferation of sites like BuzzFeed and UpWorthy, online journalism sometimes looks like it’s become little more than a fluffy, quiz-mad hype machine. Dutch creative agency Momkai has been fighting the good with their new platform De Correspondent, which aims to support a new generation of in-depth, investigative journalism. Momkai founder and De Correspondent co-founder Harald Dunnink took to the stage at last week’s Dutch Digital Design event to share the journey. LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with him to find out more.

LBB> You’re going to be talking about your De Correspondent platform – what were the main challenges you faced in terms of the craft?

 HD> De Correspondent is a Dutch­language online journalism platform that focuses on analysis, investigative reporting, background and the kinds of stories that tend to escape the radar of mainstream media.  As founding partner, Momkai was involved from the start, creating the name and the design language. The logo is an important aspect of this identity as it helps to establish the Correspondent brand by expressing its core values; of independence, conversation leadership, quality journalism and subjectivity. An important asset within the visual identity of De Correspondent is the set of personal portraits that represent each correspondent. With each being hand­rendered, they help communicate the value of authorship. 

LBB> And how did working on a project with an editorial slant change the way you think about online journalism and the digital information overload?

HD> Online journalism offers huge chances for in­depth stories and intelligent discussions. We believe  that modern journalists shouldn’t see their readers as a passive group of annoying followers. Instead, they should regard readers as a potential gold mine of expert information. That’s why, at De Correspondent, we encourage our journalists to function as conversation leaders and our members as expert contributors. In addition to offering high quality content, De Correspondent also aims to contribute, through innovation and experience, to journalism's ongoing transition into the 21st century. 

Dutch Digital Design #1: Harald Dunnink (Momkai) - De Correspondent from Dutch Digital Design on Vimeo.

LBB> How would you characterise Dutch digital design? Do you think there’s something unique about it, I so, what is it?

HD> An attention to detail mixed with a clear, often sober aesthetic plus a rebellious nature that  sometimes kicks in might describe it best. It’s in a way very self-sufficient. Projects don’t overreach,  never really become too grandiose, but don’t conform much either, and always with a clear story behind it. It’s not all too serious but still quite stubborn at the same time. A healthy form of modus vivendi: agree to disagree.

LBB> And how do you think Amsterdam’s digital output compares to the rest of the world? 

HD> I think we really can be proud of the work that gets created and the constructive, artistic atmosphere that is out there. Don’t get blindsided by the advertising competition that’s so fierce in het westernworld. Notice that there a gutsy startups like Blendle as well that really have an impact and a potential  in other markets.

LBB>What digital trends and platforms are getting you excited at the moment? 

HD> I get excited of the fact that people are willing to pay for stories online. The power of the crowd now shows that the activation of the public really has got more mature. People have become a whole lot more keen online and really appreciate good service and storytelling. The bullshit detectors now seem to work better than ever.

LBB> This is the first Dutch Digital Design event – what are you hoping to see from it?

HD> Work of which I get jealous, amazed and inspired, all at the same time. Plus I really look forward to the motivations and struggles behind each project. Intriguing stories that are honest, entertaining and inspiring. Sharing things that might not have worked out or the moments you wished you could have given your project a proper beat ­down somewhere in a back alley.

LBB> The theme of the show is ‘Made In Holland’ – which Dutch work have you seen recently that’s been really cool and interesting?

HD> Well, it’s not digital at all. I’m really intrigued by the work of Sarah van Sonsbeeck. She’s a Dutch artist with very poetic and elegant work that focuses on silence ­ the absence of sound or activity. It’s sometimes a bit tongue­in­cheek, always curious and intelligent.  She has a great talent for observation. She can turn an ordinary space into a strangely sparkling experience.

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