Alexander Klöpping doesn’t scan as a natural ally for newspapers. The former TV news presenter is 27 and, when dressed in Silicon Valley-style casual, looks even younger. Last year, at a dinner with reporters and editors from De Volkskrant, a daily in his native Holland, he stood up and said, “I never paid one cent for journalism in my life.” The remark was recalled by Philippe Remarque, the paper’s editor in chief, who added, “We started booing him, just for fun. And then he said, ‘Lately, I am paying for Spotify, so you see, if you make the service good enough, then people will pay.’”
Klöpping used to write for De Volkskrant. Now he’s selling it, piece by piece. With co-founder Marten Blankesteijn, also a former journalist, Klöpping and his two-year-old startup, Blendle, have demonstrated unprecedented success persuading people to buy news by the article. Based in Utrecht, Blendle is basically an iTunes for Dutch newspapers, an app and a website where readers can buy articles for €0.10 to €0.30 (13¢ to 38¢) a pop. In a country of 16 million, the service has signed up 129,000 users since its April 28 launch.