iPhone 5
Credit: Image by Alexander Kirch, Dreamtime.com
A news app which offers readers subscriptions to specific journalists has been launched following the closure of a free Dutch newspaper.

The print newspaper De Pers was closed last year "because of a lack of advertising", former editor-in-chief Jan-Jaap Heij told Journalism.co.uk. Now Heij is managing director of DNP, a news app which has adopted the model of "the journalist as the brand".

According to Heij, when print newspaper De Pers was still running, it had been experimenting with a digital-only newspaper, and following the closure of the print title this was "reinvented" to become DNP within around eight months.

While some of the content on the app, such as that found within its reviews section or liveblog, is free to access, the app includes a subscription model for readers to access the work of individual journalists.

"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."

The subscription channels on the app can therefore act like "their own newspaper".

"We do not select the content but we select the journalist that we want to work with. They are all independent brands and they can edit and market themselves."

DNP app

Currently the group of journalists writing for the app, which include some of those from the print newspaper, are all based in Holland.

"We started out with 11 people, the first newcomer will arrive in a week or so and we have about 200 people that want to join.

"The journalists don't have to invest anything, there is no set up fee or anything... They have no cost, but they have to spend time in content and also in marketing, in promoting themselves."

Heij added that the content includes unique and republished material, and is based on a split of around 50 per cent each.

Currently the content is largely text-based, although there are also some slideshows and video. But Heij added that "we are thinking about video channels, about photography channels, about literature channels, all sorts of media".

"It has to fit within our brand, which is a little bit young and provocative at times, but not too much, and also cheerful and optimistic, but it can be all sorts of media, all sorts of content."

Currently the app is for iOS only, with a full website due to launch in several weeks. But Heikj said "we're still thinking about Windows 8 and Android and we're hoping a good HTML5 website will solve all that so we don't have to deliver a complete range of apps".

Another feature of the app is its "liveblog", which he said is "a complete turnaround of the traditional liveblog".

He described a traditional model as where "there is a major event and you try to bring all the news about it as fast as possible and as complete as possible".

"We have turned this around in terms of what we want to do is take one subject, which we think is important, and follow this for an entire week. And if it's really important it might even be two weeks.

"So we're trying to bring all the news and all there is to share about one subject, for a longer period of time, to have a complete view of one topic. Instead of having a view about an event as fast as you can, having a view about a more long-term subject as complete as possible."

As well as trying a non-traditional liveblog model, he said the app also chose to "leave the traditional media startups model behind us" too, and instead hoped the popularity of the newspaper in the Netherlands would help it secure readership backing by crowdfunding.

Through crowdfunding it raised around 25,000, which could then be added to other money raised and invested in the app.

The app was developed by imgZine, which blogged about the app's launch this week.

Subscriptions are 1.79 a month per journalist, or 16.99 a year. Or readers can subscribe to all journalists for 4.49 a month or 37.99 a year.

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