The day has arrived
A message from Kate
Good morning readers — welcome to a very exciting day at The Dispatch: membership launch day! You can now become one of the very first members of The Dispatch by clicking the button below. Go on, make my day…
Our first 108 members are already in the club — they pledged to join us over the past six weeks since we started publishing. I hope many hundreds of you will want to join them and join us as we try to build great local journalism in the West Midlands.
Members will get all of our reporting sent to their inboxes plus four extra, well-researched members-only editions each month. These will include in-depth news reporting, culture stories, features, and political profiles, plus our daily mini-briefings with a round-up of local news and recommendations of things to do.
Crucially, members will also join a community of readers — including access to our in-person events, once we start hosting them, and our comments section under stories. Friendships will be forged, flirtations will ensue, and arguments will be had — though very diplomatically, of course.
Members are central to our model — they are the main way we are going to fund our journalism and our growth. We strongly believe that being funded by readers is a better model than relying on the pennies you earn from online clicks. The kind of reporting we do — patient, careful, responsible work — isn’t designed to go viral. It’s designed to serve you.
The big goal for us is to reach the point where The Dispatch is financially sustainable — the moment when all of our costs are covered by our subscription revenue so that we can serve this city and this region for many years to come. Supporting us with your wallet will allow us to hold corrupt influences in the city to account; it will mean we’re not forced to shill luxury cars in video ads that obscure half the article; it will pay for the journalism to happen (something which is not free — it requires writers and editors and, sometimes, lawyers).
I am adopting a very breezy tone here — this is to obscure the fact that, obviously, I am terrified. I have left a stable job at a local newspaper to set up shop on my own. Ok, not quite on my own — I have wonderful teammates working on similar titles in other cities and a couple of very hardworking editors. But in Birmingham, right now, it’s just me. And I need your help to make it work. The Dispatch has been a wonderful collective endeavour from the beginning, and never more so than today.
I left my old job at the Birmingham Mail because I wasn’t enjoying it and I wanted to write more of the types of articles I wanted to read. Since we launched in early October, I’ve been blown away by the enthusiastic response because, if I’m honest, I thought it would take a lot longer for us to make an impression. What the signups, tweets, emails, and comments have shown is that there is a huge appetite for this kind of writing in the West Midlands.
I think having proper local journalism makes a community better, fairer and stronger — more able to spread good ideas, celebrate amazing local people, and shine a light on problems, just like we did this weekend with our big investigation into the housing of the most vulnerable people in society. Paying for The Dispatch, therefore, is an investment in our city and our region, an investment that will have a great return.
The Dispatch isn’t going to try and be everything a local newspaper typically is. We won’t be covering every breaking news story — although we will always be interested in scoops, like the story about Voi e-scooters that we broke recently. We are trying something a bit different. We want to inform, explain, and tell a good yarn without sensationalising or disrupting the experience with a-million-and-one intrusive adverts.
There’s also the fact that all of us are inundated with so much information every day, that a little restraint wouldn’t go a miss. I’d rather focus on getting the stories that matter to you out there than throwing a million things your way and hoping something sticks.
Reach Plc, the massive media company that I used to work for when I was a reporter at the Birmingham Mail, assumes that people will not pay for local news and that they therefore have to write endless stories about I’m A Celeb to pay the bills, while repeatedly cutting hundreds of jobs. The model I’ve chosen assumes the opposite. It assumes that people do value quality; they do want thoughtful, intelligent reporting about a wide range of local issues.
Of course, maybe none of this will work! Maybe Reach Plc is right and nobody will pay. But after all the lovely emails and feedback I’ve received so far, I am stubbornly hopeful. I hope very much that you will support me in this and that together, we can ensure that Birmingham gets the news organisation it deserves. This is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Click that button and then drop me a line to introduce yourself. Thank you!
Being a member of The Dispatch
Get The Dispatch’s full coverage, receiving newsletters from us six days a week, plus four members-only posts each month.
Join our community, including contributing to our online discussion threads and coming to our members’ events.
Support the creation of a new place for quality journalism in Birmingham, allowing us to fund more reporting and build a news team.
Things to bear in mind:
The Dispatch is brand new and is based on a new model, so inevitably as we grow we will make changes to what we publish and how we do things. We will always tell you about the changes we are making and explain the thinking behind them.
Members will receive posts from The Dispatch every week of the year, but there will be a handful of weeks when we will publish on a reduced schedule while I take time off.