In its first seven hours of existence, the Swiss online news magazine Republik — a startup with the allure of in-depth journalism and membership transparency — gained 3,000 subscribers and 750,000 Swiss francs. But that whirlwind of support created a new pressure: delivering on its promise.
Thirteen months (and thousands more members) later, Republik is living up to the hype, reporting substantive investigations and finding new ways to engage and collaborate with readers — like virtual “dinner parties” to discuss the impact of its work.
“If you don’t have democracy, if you don’t have really good information that you can cite, there’s a problem,” Susanne Sugimoto, Republik’s CEO, told me. She calls 20 Minutes, the free Tamedia tabloid read by about half the country each week, “a business success story, but it’s not a success story in terms of journalism with a deep quality.”