Air Force to revive several base newspapers

By FRANKLIN FISHER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 13, 2009

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The U.S. Air Force will resume publication of newspapers at some Pacific bases, a move that runs counter to a broad consumer trend away from print papers in favor of Internet news sites.

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Howie Chandler ordered a return to print editions after touring air bases.

"We discovered a drawback to discontinuing base papers is the challenge of getting news and information to our family members and those who do not have routine access to a computer," Maj. Kenneth Hoffman, a PACAF spokesman in Hawaii, said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. "As a quality of life issue, Gen. Chandler decided re-establishing base papers in PACAF was the right thing to do."

The order will see the start-up of a new command-sponsored weekly newspaper in South Korea that will be distributed to airmen peninsulawide, Air Force officials said.

And it will bring back the Northern Light newspaper at Misawa Air Base in Japan, they said.

Misawa currently has an English-language paper called "The Insider," which is produced by a civilian publisher and whose content is related mainly to community events, Hoffman said.

But Misawa is seeking a contractor so it can again publish its "traditional" base paper that would carry mainly command information, he said.

The Air Force in 2006 told bases to quit printing service-funded newspapers, partly to cut costs but also because of trends showing declining newspaper readership and more reliance on the Internet for news and information.

It said bases would thereafter post news on their Web sites.

But it allowed base commanders to continue the papers through "civilian enterprise" contracts, Hoffman said.

Those contracts, which shift publication costs to the contractor in exchange for advertising revenue, have allowed the rest of PACAF’s nine bases to keep a paper going.

The Air Force in South Korea is seeking a contractor to print and distribute what would be called the MiG Alley Flyer.

Plans call for a press run of 7,000 copies weekly. The paper would carry news, features and other information from the top U.S. Air Force command in South Korea — 7th Air Force (Air Forces Korea) — and its two big fighter units, the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base and the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base. It could also carry material from elsewhere within the U.S. military — for example, news from the top U.S. military commander in South Korea, Gen. Walter L. Sharp.

Copies would be delivered to airmen at Osan and Kunsan and at U.S. Air Force compounds within Suwon, Cheongju, Daegu, Gimhae and Gwangju air bases. Airmen stationed at Camp Humphreys will also receive the paper.

The new MiG Alley Flyer will be similar in part to The Morning Calm Weekly, which the Army publishes and distributes to its installations around the peninsula. It has separate sections for the four big geographic areas of the peninsula where the Army stations troops.

"Actually, our paper is pretty much following The Morning Calm" in sorting its contents into separate sections, including those for 7th Air Force and its two fighter wings, said 1st Lt. Naomi C. Evangelista, a 51st Fighter Wing spokeswoman.

Air Force public affairs officers will be assigned to edit the new paper, she said.

The MiG Alley Flyer is the name of Osan’s e-mail newsletter, also posted on its Web site. It was also the name of the 51st Fighter Wing’s weekly print paper.

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