‘Staying Afloat of the Frothing Madness’

Dear Dispatch Reader,

We have news. 

Not “news” news. But news—really good news—about The Dispatch

At a time when many media outlets are experiencing a dramatic dropoff in viewers, readership, and subscriptionsThe Dispatch is growing. Our free email list—the one that you’re a part of—has grown 24 percent since November. That’s great. But there’s more: Dispatch membership is up 22 percent since November. And our existing members are renewing their memberships at an extraordinary rate—far above industry standards and our own best-case scenarios. That means many of the people reading our work are willing to pay for more of it and those already paying for it find it valuable—and there’s no greater validation of our founding vision than that.

I’d like to ask you to consider joining those who are already full Dispatch members. Two reasons: 1) We’re confident that you’ll find real value in having access to all of the work we do; and, 2) you will be advancing the cause of independent, fact-based journalism at a crucial time . The Dispatch is growing—we are currently hiring for four leadership positions—and nothing will help ensure our continued success more. 

Not quite there yet? Please read on.

We hope you had a chance to read our Morning Dispatch newsletter on Monday, but if you didn’t, I want to highlight it for you. In recent days, there’s been widespread coverage of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and the debate over vaccinations. Hucksters and charlatans on the right have been stoking vaccine hesitancy by pretending there’s little difference in health outcomes from being vaccinated and being unvaccinated. And, more recently, many mainstream media outlets have gone all-in on sensationalism, often highlighting statistics that are both true and misleading. From NBC News: “Exclusive: At least 125,000 fully vaccinated Americans tested positive for COVID.” The headline is accurate and no doubt generated thousands and thousands of clicks. But what was missing was the denominator: 164,757,423 vaccinated Americans, meaning just .0076 percent of vaccinated Americans have been infected. And from the Washington Post: “Vaccinated people made up three-quarters of those infected in a massive Massachusetts covid-19 outbreak, pivotal CDC study finds.” Again, true. But the vaccinated were overrepresented in the outbreak because there aren’t many unvaccinated people in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

We devoted Monday’s TMD to providing some clarity, offering readers a dispassionate, fact-driven look at the new cases, the vaccine and what it all means in the broader context of the pandemic. We got a massive response. This note, from Dispatch member Andrea Lane, was representative:

I so appreciate your breakdown of the Delta variant situation. I admit that I got a little more uptight after recently seeing all those headlines you mentioned in your story. I work at a community paper and we recently ran the AP story dealing with that Massachusetts outbreak, and I found it and the headline to be a bit confusing and misleading, just like all those other stories. I worried that we weren’t fully capable of serving our readers to the best of our ability because there was no authoritative voice that said, “OK, here’s what this really means and there’s no need to panic because …” It’s so frustrating when we get these stories and have to trust that the writers know what they’re doing, but you get the distinct feeling that they really don’t understand these outbreaks and the science any better than the average reader. It just adds to the confusion, distrust, and frustration in the general population. You are doing a real service. Thank you, Dispatch.

For several years now, news consumers have experimented with the kinds of media outlets that specialize in affirming their own views. The kind of reporting that cherry-picks information to score partisan points or demonizes political opponents to stoke outrage and get more clicks.

We’re doing something different. We’re slowing down the news cycle. We’re taking an extra day or two to make more reporting calls. We’re challenging comfortable assumptions—including our own. We’re holding politicians of both parties to the same standards. We’re prioritizing explanation and understanding. And it’s working. 

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s how Dispatch member Michael Frost described his approach to TMD: 

I’ll be honest, I read pretty much line by line every day. I find it gives me a competitive edge at work. I’m not discussing talking points, but analysis based on pragmatism and common sense.

Or this, from another member: 

If I didn’t have The Dispatch, I don’t know where I’d go for any news, policy commentary, or opinion. It’s refreshing how The Dispatch has managed to stay afloat the frothing madness of our politics, and I don’t think any other outlet has managed such a feat. Thanks Dispatch team for all the work you do.

We’re defying the trends in political journalism because we’re doing something different and we’re keeping our promises to our members.

Thanks for reading and we hope you’ll consider joining us.


Steve Hayes

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