Leadership: Stop the Presses


August 4, 2007: Last year the U.S. Air Force urged base commanders to consider scrapping a century old tradition; the base newspaper. If this were done throughout the air force, some $16 million a year could be saved. Apparently, most base commanders took the advice, and found that just depending on the base website works.

Previously, the weekly newspapers were pretty standard on American military bases, mainly as a vehicle for getting out useful information for all those who live or work on the base. There are administrative announcements, as well as social ones. The base newspapers served a morale function, as well as a practical one. But the papers cost money, some $3,000-$5,000 a week. These costs keep going up. The papers are distributed for free, but now most air force bases are also putting out all the information on the base web site. The other services are in a similar situation, and are following the air force example.

All bases now have web sites, and the troops, especially younger ones, find these more useful than newspapers. Surveys indicate that most junior troops don't even read newspapers (nor do their civilian peers). But they all rely on the web for news, and other information. The troops also note that, when they are deployed overseas, or just away from the base for a few days, the only way to stay in touch with what's happening on the base is via the web site. A few bases that dropped the paper, went back to printing it, because so few people looked at the base web site. But the trend, towards base newspapers disappearing, has begun.


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