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It Is Time to Restore Some Balance
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It Is Time to Restore Some Balance

Dear readers, If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already aware of the problems that ...

Dear readers,

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already aware of the problems that afflict journalism in America today. Signing up for The Dispatch, even just for the free stuff, says you know that we can’t keep going on this way when it comes to the political press: Faction over facts, grievance over substance.

But if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to explain why I joined The Dispatch and why I think you should, too.

Long before my decade spent as politics editor for the Fox News Channel—before high-stakes race calls and Kraken shellacking—I started out as a newspaper reporter. Back then, the primary challenge news consumers still faced was getting enough information. The internet and cable news were still in their relative infancies, and Americans of even modest means who aspired to good citizenship felt obliged to subscribe to not just a local newspaper but also at least one national magazine.

Now, this is no nostalgia trip. I don’t expect folks to go back to fanning out Time or U.S. News on their coffee tables again—nor do I think that’s the right goal. But we have, in a relatively short period of time, lost our collective memory of the ways of the world since newspapers first emerged in Northern Europe 400 years ago. I hear “The Family Circus” was even funnier in Early New High German. 

What cable news and the internet offered was revolutionary: unlimited access to information at no additional charge. While advertising had always been a big chunk of media profits, the idea of an-all-you-can eat buffet of news paid for entirely through advertisements was new. While the music business and Hollywood fought to protect their content and created the wonderful world of on-demand streaming that lets you buy what you want when you want, the news industry was subsumed by the rising tide of free content. There was no iTunes of news to replace the Napster of the aggregators and social media.

This fundamentally changed the relationship between consumers and producers of news. With consumers free to click away in search of content that scratched their ideological itches or confirmed their biases, outlets learned quickly to cater to the whims of users in hopes of making them stick around just a bit longer. Instead of selling news to the public, outlets were selling their users to advertisers. You became the product instead of the audience. And in this world of low profit margins and high competition, the incentives are high to keep your attention for just a moment longer by any means necessary.

It is time to restore some balance in the relationship between the press and the public, and the best way to do that is to restore readers and viewers to their rightful place as the end users of our products. That means we in the media have to treat our work with the rigor and respect it deserves. We have to live up to high standards for honesty, accuracy and fairness. We must understand that we are Americans, too, and have an obligation to the health and integrity of the nation and our constitutional system of government.

But this all requires something of you, as well. I know by your interest in The Dispatch that you are ready to do the work of rejecting coverage designed to pander and inflame. You have already set yourself apart as a consumer who is willing to have their ideas challenged, to hear the truth even when it is unpleasant and to examine questions outside of narrow partisan aisles. You already know that the world needs more journalists who are willing to follow the story wherever it goes. What’s missing—so far—is your commitment to making that kind of journalism possible by becoming fully a part of The Dispatch community. And that means paying for news just like you already do for Netflix or Spotify. 

You can try out a Dispatch membership for the next 30 day for FREE. Select the annual option through the link below. If you decide to stick with us, you’ll get 13 months for the price of 12. Cancel anytime. 

I joined The Dispatch because I want to be part of restoring the rightful role of the press in public life and politics. And I hope you will too.

Thanks and all best,

Chris Stirewalt

Contributing Editor 

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the politics editor for NewsNation, co-host of the Ink Stained Wretches podcast, and author of Broken News, a book on media and politics.