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About the Shawnee Mission Post

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Founded in 2010, the Shawnee Mission Post is an online-only publication that’s become the most-turned-to source for community news in northern Johnson County. We reach more than 220,000 users each month and have more than 6,000 paying subscribers.

We know that if we’re going to ask readers to pay for our work, you have to be able to trust us and our process. The information on this page gives an overview of who we are, how we approach our work and the standards we hold ourselves to — and hope you’ll hold us to as well!

Table of contents

What do you cover?

Opening day at Johnson County Park and Recreation District’s Treeline Adventure playground at Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village in 2019. Our coverage mix takes a “Reader First” approach that helps people feel connected to their communities.

The Shawnee Mission Post focuses on the communities that sit in the boundaries of the Shawnee Mission and De Soto (USD 232) school districts. (Our sister site, the Blue Valley Post, covers the communities in the Blue Valley school district area.)

We publish several new stories every weekday. Our coverage mix includes:

  • Business and restaurant openings and closings
  • Things to do in Johnson County
  • Johnson County libraries, parks and government
  • City government in Overland Park, Shawnee, Lenexa, Prairie Village, Merriam, Mission, Leawood, Roeland Park, Fairway, Mission Hills, Westwood, Lake Quivira, Westwood Hills and Mission Woods
  • Candidates’ positions on the issues facing the community
  • Crime, fires, accidents and police investigations
  • Local public school districts
  • Obituaries for Johnson County residents
  • Updates on traffic and road work
  • “Capitol Update” columns from the elected officials representing our coverage area in the Kansas legislature. All members of the Kansas House and Senate are provided the same opportunity to share their updates with our readers. We do not edit their submissions for content — nor do we endorse any opinions they may contain.

We DON’T publish:

  • Opinion columns or editorials (aside from the legislators’ Capitol Update columns).
  • Consistent coverage of high school sports

Is there something you wish the community knew more about? Let us know so we can consider it for our mix!

What do you believe in and value?

A statue of Na-Nex-Se, Lenexa’s namesake, sits near the entrance to the plaza outside the Public Market and Johnson County Library at Lenexa’s Civic Center. Photo credit Bill Harrison.

Our goal is to be the “user’s guide to Johnson County” — a resource available for anyone who wants to make sure they’re plugged in to what’s happening in the place they call home.

We started the site because we believe the most populated and prosperous county in Kansas deserves its own source for community news. And while our operation resembles a traditional community newspaper in a number of ways, it also takes a distinct approach designed to give Johnson County residents more of the coverage they value — and less of the frustrating fixtures of traditional “media.”

The fact is, what’s traditionally been of interest to journalists often isn’t of interest to the people they supposedly serve. That’s why we’ve built a distinct newsroom culture that puts Readers First. That means focusing on:

  • Making it quick and easy to get caught up. Keeping up on your community shouldn’t feel like a chore. We know how busy Johnson Countians’ lives are. That’s why we put so much effort into producing coverage that’s easy to consume — whether you’re at home, at work or on the go.
  • Focusing on facts, not opinions. In the social media era, there’s no shortage of opinion out there — but finding straightforward, reliable information is harder than ever. That’s why we focus on straight-to-the-point, just-the-facts coverage of Shawnee Mission. There’s no clickbait. No op-eds. No hot takes. Just dependable, useful information about your community.
  • Prioritizing the topics our readers value most. Putting Readers First means covering the issues that matter to average members of the community — not to power brokers, political parties or journalists. Our coverage mix is largely a response to what our readers tell us they want to see when they visit the site or open our newsletters each day.

We take these values seriously. We hold ourselves accountable to them. And we want you to hold us accountable to them as well.

If you see something on the site that you think doesn’t meet these standards, please call us out. If you see something in our coverage that you believe is inaccurate, please let us know. And if you have a question about anything we do, please ask it!

What makes you different?

Detail from the mosaic tile installations at the Prairie Village Shops in Prairie Village depicting pioneers along the Santa Fe Trail, which ran through the area.

It’s no secret that people’s opinion of “the media” is pretty low these days.

They’re upset by opinion pieces designed to stoke conflict. They don’t feel like they can trust the information journalists produce. They’re overwhelmed by bad news they feel like they can’t do anything about. And they’re flustered by the sheer volume of information coming their way.

Simply put: They’re fed up.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

After watching the legacy media that used to serve the area wither away and the national media devolve into partisan echo chambers, we knew that doing business as usual wasn’t going to be a path to success. That’s why we take a Reader First approach to reporting and presenting the news.

We work to deliver straightforward, easy-to-read, truly local coverage that lets you get caught up on the information that interests you most in about five minutes each day.

That’s it. Five minutes and you’ll feel up-to-speed and connected to your community!

Who are the people covering the community?

Newsroom staff (clockwise from top left): Alexis Lanza, Kyle Palmer, Juliana Garcia, Nikki Lansford, Lucie Krisman and Leah Wankum.

The Shawnee Mission Post and the Blue Valley Post currently have six newsroom employees. Though reporters are assigned to beats that have them focusing on either the Blue Valley or Shawnee Mission area most of the time, you’ll see their bylines on both sites pretty frequently.

The Shawnee Mission Post and Blue Valley Post are led by editor Kyle Palmer. Kyle joined the company in 2020 after serving as the News Director at KCUR and has overseen substantial growth in subscribers and overall readership. Kyle holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in policy, organization and leadership studies from Stanford University. He lives in Roeland Park with his wife and their two sons.

Leah Wankum has been a reporter for the Shawnee Mission Post since 2019. A native of mid-Missouri, she attended the University of Central Missouri. She covers the cities of Lenexa, Shawnee and the De Soto (USD 232) School District for the site. Leah lives in Merriam with her husband, daughter and cats.

Juliana Garcia has been a reporter for the Shawnee Mission Post since 2020. A Roeland Park native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas. She lives in Mission with her dog Winston.

Nikki Lansford has been a reporter for the Blue Valley Post since 2021. An Overland Park native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She lives in Mission.

Lucie Krisman has been a reporter for the Blue Valley Post since 2021. A Tulsa, Okla., native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas. She lives in Mission.

Who owns the site and how do you make money?

Site founders Jay Senter (left) and Dan Blom at the Shawnee Mission Post booth at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival in 2016.

Post Publishing, Inc, the company that publishes the Shawnee Mission Post and Blue Valley Post, is privately held and owned by Publisher Jay Senter and Editor Emeritus Dan Blom.

The company generates revenue in two ways:

  • Through subscriptions readers pay for full access to our content and premium newsletters
  • Through advertising and sponsored content

Subscriptions account for about two-thirds of our overall revenue. Advertising and sponsored content make up the remainder.

This subscription-heavy revenue mix incentivizes us to produce coverage that people value and enjoy — or, put another way: Because most of our money comes from our readers, giving you the information you need and want is our top priority.

Some readers ask why we run advertising and sponsored content on the site when we charge for subscriptions. There are a number of reasons. For one, we’re sensitive to the importance of making fact-based local reporting available to as many Johnson Countians as possible. That’s why we make our subscriptions considerably more affordable than most products in the space. A subscription that gets you full access to both the Shawnee Mission Post and the Blue Valley Post costs $7/month or $77/year. As a point of comparison, the Kansas City Star charges $15.99/month or $159.99 per year.

Eliminating advertising from the site would require us to significantly increase our subscription prices, putting them out of reach for some people. (Of note: We do provide all readers access to a limited number of free stories each month. And anyone can access all of our coverage through the Johnson County library system.)

Apart from our traditional news coverage, we offer local businesses and organizations the opportunity to pay to publish sponsored stories on the site. Those stories are always prominently labeled “SPONSORED POST” in a turquoise box above the headline. Sponsored content is written by the sponsor and is not held to the standards of impartiality that our independent journalism is. Our newsroom is not involved in the creation of that content.

As always, with questions or comments, please contact us here.

Do financial considerations influence your coverage?

Julia Westhoff in the company’s original home office in Prairie Village.

We know some people think all news outlets intentionally sensationalize stories or stoke fear to generate traffic so they can generate more ad income — but that’s just not how we operate.

In fact, we know that if we don’t maintain our reputation for trustworthy, straightforward coverage, people won’t become subscribers. And sensationalism is not a recipe for building trust!

We do pay close attention to what news stories you seem to find most valuable. If a certain topic or type of story routinely gets more readership than others, we’re likely to allocate more of our staff’s energy to doing that type of work. We value your feedback, and our subscription model depends on our ability to provide coverage that is consistently interesting, useful and valuable. We will be in better shape financially if we offer more of what you find useful and less of what you don’t want.

Our sales operation is wholly separate from our newsroom operation, so advertisers have no influence over our editors’ and reporters’ coverage decisions. The publisher does not participate in the newsroom’s weekly story planning meeting and exercises no control over day-to-day newsroom decisions.

As always, with questions or comments, please contact us here.

What’s the company’s history?

Back in 2010, it was pretty difficult to find timely coverage of the communities in northeast Johnson County. The Kansas City Star, which for years had provided robust coverage of the area in weekly inserts, had closed its Johnson County bureau. The Johnson County Sun, which had been publishing for 60 years, was on the verge of shutting down.

Jay Senter and Julia Westhoff met while working at their college newspaper, The Badger Herald, in Madison, Wis.

Jay Senter and Julia Westhoff, who met while working at their college newspaper, had just moved back to Jay’s hometown of Prairie Village and noticed how difficult it was to find out what was happening in their neighborhood. So they launched a website called the Prairie Village Post to cover city government, schools and business in Prairie Village, Fairway and Mission Hills.

Dan Blom (left) and Jay Senter early in the site’s history.

Within a couple years, interest in the Post’s mix of community coverage had grown to the point that residents of neighboring communities were asking for the site to cover their areas as well. Dan Blom, a 30-year veteran of the newspaper industry and a former grad school classmate of Jay’s, joined the company and led the expansion into Mission, Roeland Park, Merriam and Overland Park.

Kyle Palmer (left) moderating a statehouse forum in Shawnee in 2020. Under Palmer’s leadership, the site has seen substantial growth in overall readership and paid subscriptions.

By 2016, the site’s coverage footprint had grown to the point that it made sense to change the name to better reflect its reach. Today, the Shawnee Mission Post covers all of the communities in the Shawnee Mission and De Soto (USD 232) school district footprints.

In 2020, Kyle Palmer took over leadership of the newsroom and Jay moved full-time into the role of Publisher. Dan retired from day-to-day work on the site in 2017, but remains a frequent adviser and an officer.

Contact information