The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus are daily morning newspapers based in Moline, Illinois, and circulated primarily throughout the Illinois side of the Quad Cities — Moline, East Moline, Rock Island and Rock Island County. They are also for sale in retail establishments on the Iowa side of the Quad Cities — Davenport and Bettendorf.

The newspapers are owned by the Small Newspaper Group, which is located in Kankakee, Illinois. The Dispatch has a circulation of 31,752 in and around Moline [2] and The Rock Island Argus has a circulation of 12,558.[3] The Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus are essentially the same newspaper, only with the front covers switched for their respective readers.


The Rock Island Argus

The Argus, founded in Rock Island, is one of Illinois' oldest continuously published newspapers.[4] It can trace its origin to 1851 with the founding of a weekly paper called The Republican. It became Rock Island County’s first daily two years later after it was purchased by Colonel J.B. Danforth. Because Danforth was a staunch member of the Democratic Party he had the paper’s name changed to the Rock Island Argus. The newspaper was purchased by John Potter in 1882 when the paper had 500 subscribers.[5] He died in 1898 and his wife Minnie took over the management of the paper and ran it until her death. In 1925 she had the newspaper plant built on Fourth Avenue in Rock Island. The Potter family operated the newspaper until 1986 when it was bought by the Small Newspaper Group.[4]

In November 1932, the Potters bought Rock Island's first radio station, WHBF (now WKBF). Eventually, that station spawned an FM station (now WLKU) and a television station (still operating under the WHBF-TV calls). The Potters sold the Argus to the Small family in 1986.

Issues for years 1862-1922 have been digitized and are available for free online at both the Chronicling America and the University of Illinois Library websites.

The Daily Dispatch

The first issue of the Moline Daily Evening Dispatch was produced in July 31, 1878. It was started by Oliver and Louise White, who were publishers of The Molly Stark, a weekly newspaper in Toulon, Illinois. Competition forced them to sell the paper to Patterson S. McGlynn and John K. Groom. In the early to mid-20th century the paper was under the leadership of Harry Sward, Lee R. Blackman and August Sundine. It was under Sward’s leadership that the paper’s identity changed from one focused on Moline to Western Illinois and it became The Daily Dispatch.

The Daily Dispatch was purchased by Len H. Small on February 28, 1969. It was at this time that the newspaper started the conversion from the “hot metal” method of composition to computerized photocomposition. The plant was expanded in 1974 and the first Sunday edition was the paper was published on March 14, 1976.

On Thursdays, a weekly neighborhood section called Metro East is published, covering East Moline, Silvis, Carbon Cliff and communities in upper Rock Island County.

The Dispatch / The Rock Island Argus

Since the Small Newspaper Group acquired the Argus in 1986, the operations of the Argus have been gradually cut back and combined with those of The Dispatch. Today, the two newspapers' content is virtually identical, the only difference being that the mastheads are switched for readers in Moline and Rock Island.

In 1995 both papers switched from evening to morning publications.[4] Quad-Cities Online has been operated by the papers since 1994. It provides local online news, weather, sports and event information. It has grown to include an online auction,, a service for buying or selling real estate, and opportunities for banner, email and mobile advertising. Jerry Taylor is the publisher of both papers and Roger Ruthhart is their managing editor.[4]

The Leader

From 1986 through 2007, a weekly total market coverage newspaper called The Leader circulated in Scott County, Iowa, home to Davenport. Distributed on Thursdays, the newspaper contained re-printed content from the Dispatch and Argus, plus exclusive features and hard news stories from Davenport and the Iowa side of the Quad Cities.