More Air Force base newspapers going Web-only
More Pacific commands will stop printing hard copies of their base newspapers as part of an Air Force-wide directive to save money and offer timelier online news coverage.
Misawa Air Base in Japan and Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska ceased publishing last year, and Osan and Kunsan Air Bases in South Korea, Kadena Air Base on Okinawa and Yokota Air Base in Japan are following suit.
Instead of staffing a news desk to design a weekly paper, Air Force journalists now will post their information directly onto their base Web sites.
“There’s a lot of man hours that’s required to lay out a physical newspaper,” Kadena spokesman Scott Hallford said. “Most base newspapers have a limited staff, and layout eats up a lot of time.”
Kadena reduced the amount of pages of its paper, The Shogun, from 12 to four last month and will stop printing a hard copy altogether in October 2008, according to Hallford.
“The Air Force found through studies that there was a reduction in the readership of base newspapers,” said Capt. Warren Comer, a Yokota public affairs officer.
Yokota will print the final edition of its base paper, the Fuji Flyer, on June 1.
“We will be embracing technology and will be posting news and information on Yokota’s Web site,” Comer said.
At Kunsan Air Base, which will print the last Wolf Pack Warrior on April 27, more people visit the current online edition of the base’s paper than pick up printed copies each Friday, said 8th Fighter Wing spokesman Capt. James Lage.
“Quite honestly we’re coming on line with what major media newspapers are doing worldwide,” Lage said. “Obviously we live in the electronic age now and people are tending to go to the Internet to look for their news as opposed to picking up hard copies of their newspapers.”
On March 30, Osan delivered its final hard copy of the MiG Alley Flyer newspaper, which started in 1952 as the Thunderjet Express and was renamed four times.
“Our mission is to inform and educate Team Osan,” Lt. Col. Michael Shavers, 51st Fighter Wing spokesman, stated in an Air Force news release. “Whether it’s a commander’s commentary or a feature story on security forces, the base paper — and now the Web site — is the number one source for information on what’s happening in and around Osan.”
Most bases cited a reduced lag time in getting the story out as a benefit to online publication.
“We can write a story and post it right away, giving people access to real-time news,” Comer said, adding another benefit of the Web site is that they are able to post video news from the American Forces Network and links to other Air Force information.
Lage said the online version of Kunsan’s paper will be updated daily.
“The immediacy is definitely the value added for the airmen,” he said.
Stars and Stripes reporters Megan McCloskey, Bryce Dubee and Tim Flack contributed to this report.
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