We’re Just Getting Started, and We’d Love to Have You on Our Journey

A lot of things have surprised me since we started The Dispatch. I won’t bore you with the business and management stuff. Suffice it to say a couple of the things I thought would be hard were easy. All of the stuff I thought would be easy turned out to be harder than planned. And, obviously, in retrospect I should have known that interns are actually covered under the Geneva Convention and other relevant international treaties and domestic laws—just like normal people! Who knew?

A more relevant shock has been the feedback from readers—in the comment sections to be sure, but also in email, chance encounters with regular Americans, and even in off-the-record conversations with D.C. muckety-mucks. Specifically, it’s been a really pleasant surprise to see how many people get it.

We all have favorite writers and journalists at other publications who do great work. We all have other institutions we admire. Nonetheless, people understand that we’re providing something that’s missing out there. Again, I don’t mean you can’t find good stuff in other places—you can. What I mean is that there’s not enough of the kind of thing we’re trying to provide and what there is can be hard to find amidst all the noise. And we’re working night and day to do it in one place.

Obviously, we hoped people would respond positively. Steve and I wouldn’t have started The Dispatch if we didn’t think that was possible. But if you ever had a hope or wish or goal you’ve worked toward finally start to come true, it can still feel like a bolt out of the blue.

But the really big surprise is the diversity and goodwill of our readership. I don’t necessarily mean diversity in the sense that it’s commonly used. We don’t collect that kind of data, so we literally have no idea how many of you are left-handed gingers from St. Louis or are half-Hmong, half-Norwegian Presbyterians from Temple, Texas. Rather, I mean the political and ideological diversity of our readers. Whatever I write, I get pushback, support, conversation and insights from the left and the right, from Republicans and Democrats, Never-you-know-who-ers and always-you-know-who-ers and everyone in between. The vast majority of it is thoughtful, sincere, and respectful—regardless of whether the reader (or listener) agrees or disagrees with the substance of what I’m saying.

I think that’s because some people—at least our people—can not only tolerate different points of view, they eagerly seek them out, if they know what they’re hearing isn’t a strict party line or an argument that starts with the predictable conclusion and then works backward to support it. We have a lot of strong opinions around here. There’s no such thing as good flan, for example. And we aren’t trying to be all things to all people. But we do try to make serious and sincere arguments backed up by the facts and presented in a way that holds your attention and doesn’t waste your time.

And on that note, we’re also keenly interested in providing new information, missing context, and pertinent insights that make you feel like you’re on top of the news, maybe even ahead of it, but definitely not drowning in it. That’s what the full Morning Dispatch is for. Steve, Declan, Andrew, Audrey, Charlotte, and all those muffled intern voices from inside the kennels work themselves ragged to make that thing look easy and feel really useful.

But it doesn’t stop there. Sarah Isgur’s fantastic newsletter, The Sweep doesn’t just cover the campaigns, it anticipates what’s coming down the pike before everyone is talking about it (she warned about the very real complexities of mail-in balloting long before it became a political hot button). Tom Joscelyn, author of Vital Interests, knows more about the inner workings of the intelligence and national security world than most of the people working in it (which is one reason so many of those people read and rely on his stuff). David French—who literally just wrote the book on polarization, by the way—is one of America’s foremost experts on the First Amendment, and not just the parts about free speech either. He’s also one of the most interesting, knowledgeable, and insightful writers on religion and its intersection with the law. We just brought Scott Lincicome aboard to offer his knowledge of trade, economics, and nachos (though not necessarily in that order) to a wider audience.

I could go on, about the fact checking, the standalone pieces on our website, even my own “news”letter, the G-File.

But in the space I’ve got left, I’d rather go on not about what we’ve done or what we can offer now (a lot!), but about how much more we want to do—and soon. Our first year has been an unqualified success—even considering that the pandemic scrambled some of our plans. We are already gearing up for our second, with new reporters, new beats, new wares. We’re still young. We’re still ambitious. We’re still hungry to do so much more. And we still think there’s so much more that can be done to provide the kind of news, commentary, and analysis that people crave.

And, most importantly there’s still time for you to be part of this thing. It’s still early days and there’s still time to get in on the ground floor to help us build it out for the years to come. We’re not asking for charity. We don’t want a donation. Yes, we want customers—but customers who want something more. We want partners. We want members of our community who not only appreciate what we are doing but want to be part of where we’re heading.

Look, I’ll confess: This is hard work. But it’s also a lot of fun. We have a good time together, not just because we like and respect each other, but because we believe in what we’re doing. But perhaps most of all because people like you believe in it too. So if you haven’t taken the plunge and fully committed—and if you can afford it; these are hard times, after all—please come aboard.

And, if you still need convincing, fair enough. Just give us a shot. You can try us now—for free—for 30 days. Simply select the annual membership option and the next 30 days is on us. If at the end of 30 days, you think it’s not worth paying for, you won’t have to: You can just cancel. And no hard feelings on our end (though Steve might cry into his enormous bucket of Spanish wine).

But I think you’ll find it valuable, maybe even important. And I don’t think you’ll regret being able to say you were with us from the beginning. I know we’ll try our very best to assure that you don’t.

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