Column: Operation 100 News thanks community for support
When I learned earlier this month that the Shawnee Dispatch would be closing, I wasn’t sure what to think of it.
It’s hard to see another newspaper end production, especially when that newspaper was covering the happenings of the city I grew up in and that I continue to call home.
I began working as an independent contractor with the Lawrence Journal-World in April 2011.
Since that time I have monitored and reported on the overnight happenings of law enforcement and fire medical across Douglas County.
In January 2013, a now former managing editor of the Journal-World along with Publisher Scott Stanford asked to meet me. They were both relatively new to the paper and wanted to understand what I would be doing for them.
We met a few days later with them stopping by my home office in Shawnee.
We sat at the kitchen table and discussed my coverage of Douglas County. Eventually, the question was asked, “why aren’t you doing the same things for us in Shawnee?”
February 2013, I started contributing to the Shawnee Dispatch as an independent contractor in addition to my work with the Journal-World.
Journalism wasn’t a career that I saw myself entering out of high school, but I grew up around family members who worked in both law enforcement and the fire service.
My grandmother had a scanner in her living room, and I vividly remember listening to that scanner while visiting her home.
My parents bought me my first scanner, a Radio Shack Pro-2040, for my 11th birthday.
I was always the kid who ran to the window or out into the front yard at the sound of an approaching emergency vehicle siren.
I was in fifth grade when fire destroyed Shawnee Village Bowl one cold winter day. After school, as the flames tore through the building and black smoke billowed into the gray sky, I talked my mom into driving me over there to watch.
It’s the first fire that I can remember standing across the street and watching firefighters battle as the spray from the hoses turned to ice on their gear.
The truth is, I’m still that kid who stands in the window or front yard waving at passing emergency vehicles.
I’ve been fortunate that my hard work and the support of my contracts has allowed me to upgrade my equipment to keep up with the times regarding both public safety radio technology and photography equipment.
The Shawnee Dispatch opened up countless doors which allowed me to meet and get to know some of our city’s finest and bravest.
Telling their stories in print and online, along with documenting their work through my photography, is what I genuinely enjoy doing.
I’ve worked in partnership with several editors at the Dispatch.
Specifically, former editor Nico Roesler and current editor Jennifer Bhargava. Both of them helped me improve my writing in ways that I could never have imagined.
I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from both of them.
I also want to thank the editors, reporters, and other staff from both the Journal-World and Ogden Newspapers for their continued support.
Most importantly, I have to thank you, the consumer of news who is reading this.
None of this would have ever been possible without the support of my readers and followers who helped propel my work from being nothing more than short, vague tweets about scanner chatter to full reports with photos from too many emergency scenes and community events to even begin to count.
As for what’s next for me, while a lot remains unclear, I do know that I’m not giving up.
With the unwavering support and continued encouragement of my family and close friends, I will continue my partnership with the Lawrence Journal-World as well as my reporting on crime and fire news in Shawnee through the use of social media and bringing back my long dormant Blogspot page as Operation 100 News.
Whatever comes next for news coverage in Shawnee, I hope to at least be a small part of it.