From The Dispatch: Some News and an Offer

Dear readers and supporters of The Dispatch,

We’d like to make you an offer you most certainly can refuse.

A brief explanation first, though.

We had a plan. It was pretty simple. On October 8, we’d begin a slow rollout of our editorial offerings—a “soft launch” in start-up jargon. Then, we’d ramp up—more newsletters, new podcasts, eventually a website—until we formally launched The Dispatch on January 7. Everything would remain free through mid-February 2020 and then we’d ask people to become paying members.

It was a good plan. We’re mostly sticking to it. But something unexpected happened. Initially, we offered only two choices: the free plan or a Lifetime Founders Membership for $1,500. We didn’t know what to expect, but we figured we’d be lucky if we could count the Lifetime Members by the dozen. Instead, we have hundreds.

We were blown away by the number of people who wanted to get in on the ground floor and provide a boost to our mission. And we’re deeply grateful and encouraged by the results. This early support has allowed us to make important editorial decisions that will mean more and better reporting and analysis from the very beginning.

There was something else, too. We received hundreds upon hundreds of unsolicited emails from supporters who found the $1,500 Lifetime membership too expensive but who were nonetheless eager to support our efforts … immediately. A note last week from Virginia reader Joe Elwell is representative: I “cannot afford the current subscription requirement but will happily sign up/pay when you open it up. What are you waiting for??!!”

To answer Joe’s question directly: We were waiting until the entire range of our editorial offering was available in order to give prospective members a sense of what they’d be getting by joining (and what they’d be missing if they didn’t). But if you know already that you like what we’re doing and want to help our efforts, who are we to deny you?

So, we’re tweaking our plan. We’ve decided to offer annual memberships early. You can join right now for $100 for the next year. If you believe in what we’re doing, and if you want to help advance our mission, please sign up.

Here’s what this means. If you do nothing, you will continue to receive all of our editorial products for free until we impose the paywall—in mid-February 2020. If you join now and become an annual member, we will start your membership clock immediately and you will take great satisfaction in knowing that while you’re not getting anything special right now, your early membership will help advance our work at a time when it’s most important. If you join now and become a Lifetime Founding Member, you get capital letters at the beginning of your honorific and the undying gratitude of our entire team … forever.

You can read more about our mission here. It’s not complicated. We’re looking to be a reliable source of information for readers who don’t know who to believe, a trusted guide through the chaos of modern American politics, policy, and culture. We believe in reporting and analysis driven by logic, reason, and, most important, facts. Not conservative facts, not alternative facts—just facts. We want to slow things down, to step back from the frantic pace of the news cycle and offer some depth and understanding on those things that really matter. This won’t be all finger-wagging and eat-your-spinach nagging. We don’t think there needs to be a trade-off between sticking to the truth and offering engaging and entertaining writing.

We’ll provide a community where real conversation takes place, an alternative to the increasingly frustrating and sewage-filled discussions on social media. We will participate actively in those discussions—asking questions and working to answer them, seeking input on story ideas and angles.

Finally, we will never subject our members to the assaultive experience so prevalent elsewhere in digital media—the autoplay videos, the whack-a-mole pop-up ads, the cheap clickbait boxes. We won’t flood your inboxes with misleading marketing campaigns or bottom-feeder sales offers. Our members will receive from us information they want to receive from us.

We understand that there is a risk in doing something this different. We have been told repeatedly that we’re crazy to pass on the kinds of monetization schemes deployed by others. And maybe that will end up being true. But a main motivating factor in launching The Dispatch was the ability to do things the right way, with our editorial objectives leading our business strategy. It’s not the full, build-it-and-they-will-come approach, but there’s a leap of faith that might feel familiar to fans of Field of Dreams.

We hope you’ll consider joining us as an annual member—and if you like what you see, consider buying gift memberships for friends and family. We will be grateful—and we promise that you’ll be proud of the journalism your membership dollars are underwriting, and the community we’ll build together.

Thanks for reading,

Jonah, Steve, Toby, and The Dispatch team

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