Good afternoon! My name is Harvest Prude and I’m a journalism fellow here at The Dispatch. I joined the team in June, and it’s been a whirlwind few months reporting out of Washington, D.C. I know your time is valuable, but I hope you’ll take two minutes to read about why I joined The Dispatch as a reporter and why I hope you’ll consider joining as a member.
The huge trust deficit in the media is not just a theoretical problem. I hear it in people’s tone of voice when I visit my hometown in western Kentucky and people find out what I do for work.
“You’re a journalist?” one woman responded. “Oh. Well, we need good journalists.” She used the same reverent tones used to describe used car salesmen and divorce lawyers.
Folks are then quick to pivot to what bothers them about the media at large at the moment: obvious bias among television news anchors, the proliferation of “fake news,” or reporting that stereotypes or misunderstands anyone who comes from a different socioeconomic, cultural, or religious background. And the list goes on.
Books’ worth of essays—and actual books—have been written about these various, very real problems and what should be done to remedy them. So I won’t belabor those points and tout some non-existent quick fix.
But I will say that these comments have stuck with me. And they’ve informed the kind of journalist I’ve tried to become.
In college, I learned that journalism was a craft. My professors drilled into me that the best professionals go out and report: They observe what’s happening, pound the pavement, talk to a wide variety of sources, circle back to fact check, and do their level best to interpret political/medical/sports jargon into plain speech. Good reporters, I learned, need to be armed with a desire to serve their readers—insatiable curiosity, no fear of strangers, and a dogged determination to get the facts right.
Sadly, it sometimes seems like such values have fallen out of vogue. Instead, plenty of journalists would rather make themselves the story, adopt a flippant approach to accuracy, serve their sources rather than readers, and seem more interested in activism than objectivity.
Meanwhile, plenty of publications engage in ideological warfare, with journalists as willing foot soldiers firing shots for the political party of their choice.
However, I genuinely believe there are still journalists and editors who have a fervent loyalty to the truth, who are humble about the limitations of their own knowledge, and who aren’t interested in becoming pawns in the partisan wars.
And I think you find a lot of them at The Dispatch.
If you’re reading this, you already know what The Dispatch is not: it’s not a breeding ground for hot shots seeking Twitter fame by manufacturing a steady stream of clickbait and half-baked takes, or a place for those who want to carry water for their preferred political party.
Instead, it’s a place that cultivates the kind of journalist I’ve always wanted to be: one who brings readers the salient news of the day from a cool-headed, fact-based perspective, dives deep into policy as opposed to punditry, does justice to the range of reasonable perspectives, holds public figures to account without favoritism, and leaves her ego at home.
I took a year-long fellowship with The Dispatch because I hope to grow in those ways.
So far, I’ve been able to write about China’s embrace of a three child policy, the debt ceiling, and immigration reform. I’ve also written about President Biden’s failure of leadership on the Afghanistan refugee crisis and about the GOP’s failure to weed out unsavory views among their ranks. Sometimes, for fun, I’ll contribute a movie review to the culture section.
If you’re reading this email and any of this resonates with you, I would be honored if you would consider supporting us. And right now, we have a very special offer going on. This week only, you can join The Dispatch as an annual member and the first 30 days are free. It’s also risk-free: If any time you decide it’s not what you’re looking for, you can cancel.
You becoming a member today is confirmation to me and everyone at The Dispatch that striving to bring fact-based news and thoughtful analysis is a worthy endeavor. That there is value in hitting pause at times on the 24/7 news cycle to produce a more deeply reported and thoughtful piece. Of course, no outlet is perfect. But with your support, I’ll be able to dive into more policy fights and lawmaker interviews (and the occasional movie review).
I really believe that one day, when I leave the Beltway and tell people that I’m a reporter, I won’t just get a laundry list of concerns about the media. That will likely still be a part of the conversation. But I hope that, as our project grows, I’ll have more and more people say, “Oh, you’re a journalist? Have you heard of The Dispatch?”