Zetland is a digital publisher dedicated to journalism as a force for good. Guided by our members, we fight for a public conversation motivated by insight and curiosity. We reject the present-day cynicism and polarization that paint the world in black and white, that undermine our ability to overcome important challenges together.
Zetland has received international acclaim for its audio journalism, user experience, live journalism, and groundbreaking work on establishing a business model for journalism that is funded, supported and driven forward by its members. We are ad-free and fully transparent.
Zetland exceeded 28,000 members (Danish population: 5.8M) in 2021, and our operation has been financially sustainable since 2019. Zetland is part of a European movement of membership-based publishers that include Republik in German-speaking Switzerland and De Correspondent in the Netherlands (do you consider yourself family as well? Let us know).
The problem with the news industry
Zetland was born out of frustration with the role of fast-paced news in society and in our daily lives. Nobody needs more information nowadays; too much information is actually bad both for our health and for democracy. Headlines become a blur, we feel surrounded by noise, the world seems unmanageable and dangerous, and we lose touch with what matters and why we should care.
The news industry was headed down this spiral even before social media began turning up the volume on noise, thus weakening our common ground and capability of sharing insights and solving crucial problems.
The trust that binds our democracies together is in danger. To show that journalism can be part of the solution rather than the problem, Zetland has committed itself to six principles:
#1We are our members
Zetland is guided by the citizens who choose to contribute to its mission. We exist to give meaning to their lives and improve the public conversation.
#2We do not contribute to information overload
We focus on the defining issues of our time, not on what happened five minutes ago.
#3We try to explain, not simplify, the world
Most of the great questions of our time are full of nuances and dilemmas. That’s what makes understanding and discussing them so exciting.
#4We fight cynicism and search for solutions
When we explore current problems, we also delve into their possible solutions and all the other things that bind us together as opposed to splitting us apart.
#5Our technology is human-friendly
No distractions, no ads, no shadowy tracking. The constant bombardment of our attention has to stop. We try to make a calm and enjoyable experience out of focusing on what really matters.
#6We are passionate about our journalism and honest about everything we do
Journalists used to put on a suit and tie and expect the public to believe what they said. That’s not how trust works anymore. We are open about our values and decisions and the many things we don't know.
Zetland grew out of four journalists' minds and a cellar in Copenhagen. Hakon Mosbech, Silke Bock, Jakob Moll, and Lea Korsgaard quit their jobs in legacy media and dedicated themselves to figuring out how to make news less stupid and journalism more beneficial to society.
In its early years, Zetland published in two formats. The so-called 'singles' were longer than articles but shorter than books, which allowed them to be ambitious in depth. They were magnificent stories, but not many people read them. Zetland also published spectacular live journalism shows, including a bunch of sold-out performances at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. They were also great, but a pain to put together. Live journalism doesn't scale well, as they say in the tech industry. Zetland's founders wanted more impact on society and in people's lives.
In March of 2016, the current Zetland was launched as a daily digital newspaper. With the brave support of three private investors and 1,400 founding members, the newspaper gathered a team of more than 20 people and began publishing a few stories every day.
2016. Launch. Talking heads predict that Zetland will never survive.
2017. Inspired by member suggestions, Zetland begins publishing everything in both text and audio format, with the option of switching between formats halfway through a story (and has done so ever since). A talking head predicts that this must definitely be the end.
2018. Zetland's custom-built publishing platform receives the Gold Medal from the Society for News Design Scandinavia. Zetland's daily news podcast, The Helicopter, launches after rigorous feedback from volunteer members.
2019. Member Lene Porup from Northern Jutland expresses concern about the pressure on the Zetland team. She joins with other members to make Zetland profitable – this 'ambassador model' goes on to win the global first prize for campaign work in the news industry. Zetland is also named Europe’s best news app.
2020. Zetland's membership doubles in 12 months. More than 2,000 members are now Zetland ambassadors.
2021. 40+ employees, video-operation launches, groundwork for the possible launch of Zetland in other countries.
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