Morale: The Generation Gap On Paper


March 15, 2009: Three years ago, U.S. Air Force bases began to scrap a century old tradition; the base newspaper. Now some bases are bringing the papers back, because they found there were a significant minority of base residents who did not use the Internet (which was supposed to replace the newspaper.)

These weeklies are almost standard on military bases, mainly as a vehicle for getting out information of use to all those who live or work there. There are administrative announcements, as well as social ones. The base newspapers served a morale function, as well as a practical one. But the news papers cost money, some $3,000-$5,000 a week. The papers were distributed for free, and now there's a trend towards eliminating the papers, and just putting out all the information on the base web site. All bases now have web sites, and 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 all these young troops 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, they only way to stay in touch with what's happening on the base is via the web site. But many older NCOs and officers, along with their spouses, do still read newspapers. It's a generational thing, so the base newspaper is still doomed.

Those bases that are reviving the base newspaper are not spending any money on it. Instead, they are looking for civilian contractors who will put out the paper for free, in return for keeping all the advertising revenue. The contractor would also provide some of the content, but the people on the base would also provide material, along with those official announcements, which is the only reason for bringing the base newspaper back, at least temporarily. Some bases are going the contractor route, instead of closing the existing base newspaper.


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