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Swimming upstream

Has Air Force General Howie Chandler gotten the memo that print newspapers are dying? From Stars and Stripes-

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.


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.

They will pay a contractor to print these newspapers. Readership was declining three years ago, if anything that trend is worse today.

Our government tax dollars at work. Maybe this was part of the stimulus package.


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Comments (8)

Everytime you post a slam o... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:

Everytime you post a slam of someone, it is necessary to go check the story to see just how you are distorting it. That is the real reason you would be more at home on Wizbang Blue - you have the right ethics. From the very Stars and Stripes arcticle you partially quoted:

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 costs will be paid by the contractor, which they will be able recoup through advertising. To make it even simpler for you: no taxpayer dollars whatsoever.

I came in here to say much ... (Below threshold)

I came in here to say much of what Anon already did. I'm a military PAO, and while I'd agree with you about civilian print media, military print media is a completely different animal. Our unique communication needs and challenges make print products still vital and valuable. I work for the Navy and print products are one of the best, and only, ways to get command information to ships at sea (limited Web/e-mail/telephone access).

Further, like Anon said, the contractor pays for these costs through advertising.

But further, as a conservative, I simply do not understand conservative antipathy toward everything print. I understand conservative issues with liberal journalists, but there can still be a vital role for print. We just need to take it local again.

Depends on what the post pa... (Below threshold)

Depends on what the post paper is trying to do. Do ALL the news? No way. But the local stuff, and what's happening on base, who to contact with what problems, who's going where, published maybe twice a month. No problem with that.

It certainly won't be "The Overseas Weekly" (or Oversexed Weekly as we used to call it), nor will it be the "Stars and Stripes".

IIRC, most capital ships in the Navy publish newspapers.

Producing newspapers is a g... (Below threshold)

Producing newspapers is a good thing if for no other reason than to keep a normative version of American English alive.

Example: "wanna" and "dontcha" infest blogs and even books (post-modern "dialect"?). But even the metrosexual youth movie and concert reviewers at weekly alternative newspapers seem averse to using it in print. Too many other peoples' laughing rolling eyes run across a print run before it even leaves the loading dock (including the janitor's and the intern's); why paint FEY in permanent ink on one's forehead?

Though the local daily were I live is a thin gruel indeed, and the price is no longer a quarter, if I make time to read the first paragraph of each story, and the first sentence of every paragraph thereafter, my annoying know-it-all status is secure, and all accomplished over two tuna salad sandwiches and a pickle. And a cigarette. 20-25 minutes front to back (see "thin gruel").

I have to agree with the co... (Below threshold)

I have to agree with the commentors above: the base paper is a form of communication that can't yet be replaced electronically. A very important form of communication. I'd expect Lee Lee to bitch about this at the blue site.

Doesn't belong here.

Another thing: long-form re... (Below threshold)

Another thing: long-form reading via a computer screen is a real chore. Newspapers made from wood pulp WILL remain. Or they'll have to issue us all Orgasmatron 3000s like in "Sleeper".

Print media is not dead, on... (Below threshold)

Print media is not dead, only certain forms and flavors of it.

The military is necessarily different and print media serves some of the military communities much better than the web does.

What Donna B said, with a f... (Below threshold)
Mark L:

What Donna B said, with a few additional points.

The very fact that newspaper readership is dropping increases both the demand and need for a base paper. Demand is dropping because the civilian paper turn out a wretched product. It has more in common with the partisan, political newspapers of the late 18th and early 19th century than the impartial news sources people came to expect in the mid-20th century. Garbage in. Garbage out.

That does not eliminate a need or desire for news -- only a for shoddy, ill-reported news. Certainly not among those intelligent enough to both want news and to discern when they are being fed garbage. Frankly, despite stereotypes of the military and their families as knuckle-dragging, illiterate trogledytes in the military because they lack competence to make it in the civilian world so beloved by today's left (and a large percentage of the nation's intelligensia -- but I repeat myself) the truth is precisely the opposite. Today's serviceman or servicewoman is intelligent, highly-motivated and engaged in life. Like attracts like, and I cannot see them -- on average -- marrying dummies. So you have a class of people that are natural newspaper readers.

Seems to me that this general is doing what the leadership of our military does best, when given an opportunity to do so by our civilian leadership. He has seen an opportunity and is preparing to exploit it in an expeditious and efficient manner.






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