“The Shawnee Dispatch is ceasing publication,” announced the staff on Wednesday, the final day of operation. “This edition will be the last for the 16-year-old newspaper.”
Sailing into the Internet wind, the World Company boldly launched the paper on Nov. 7, 2002 as a weekly. Distributed free of charge by mail to Shawnee residents, the paper at one point reached some 23,000 households.
Publisher Scott Stanford attributed the closing to a decline in advertising. By closing the Dispatch, the Ogden Company, which bought the Dispatch in 2016, plans to concentrate its efforts on its daily newspaper in Lawrence, the Journal-World, and its weekly newspaper in Tonganoxie, the Mirror.
After the Johnson County Sun ceased publication in 2011, the Shawnee Dispatch was the only semi-major print publication based in Johnson County. The closure increases the near monopolistic power of the Kansas City Star, particularly its Johnson County edition.
As the most recent election revealed, the lack of any major countervailing force to the Star has been pushing Johnson County to the genteel left. The Dispatch did not offer much in the way of opposition, nor did the Sun, but they had at least the potential to keep the Star honest and occasionally did.