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Stop the Press: Eglin Eagle makes final transition

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., -- The Eglin Eagle collage represents more than six decades of Eglin history through the stories told in the base newspaper. Originally named the Eglin Eagle, the first issue was printed in December 1941. The newspaper temporarily took the name Command Courier for the Air Proving Ground Command November 1946 through December 1957. The name Eglin Eagle returned in January 1958.The final edition was printed Feb. 23, 2007. (USAF ilustration by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., -- The Eglin Eagle collage represents more than six decades of Eglin history through the stories told in the base newspaper. Originally named the Eglin Eagle, the first issue was printed in December 1941. The newspaper temporarily took the name Command Courier for the Air Proving Ground Command November 1946 through December 1957. The name Eglin Eagle returned in January 1958.The final edition was printed Feb. 23, 2007. (USAF ilustration by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., -- The Internet Age has ushered in a new era where information is delivered to the World instantaneously. 

This is the final edition of Eglin's flagship publication -- the Eglin Eagle. Instead of a thumb lick to flip through pages, with the click of a mouse it's information at your fingertips. The Eagle is transitioning to a Web-based news service and retiring its 65-year run as the official base newspaper. 

Many people over those 65-years has sat in the editor's chair -- each having different experiences week-in and week-out. For me, that experience will not be forgotten. 

However, the one experience I thought I would never have is saying goodbye. 

"I love my job," is what I tell people all the time about what I do in the Air Force. The truth of the matter is it's not a job -- it's a passion. I love telling the Air Force story. 

Like many Eagle readers, I didn't like the idea of the Eagle's evolution. After all, it's the way we've done business for so long. Unfortunately, the way we do business is changing. To survive, we must adapt to our continually changing environment. 

"Manpower and budget cutbacks are definite challenges in today's Air Force, and public affairs is not exempt from these challenges," said Col. Dean Clemons, 96th Air Base Wing commander. "This year, the 96th ABW public affairs office will undergo an approximate 50 percent manpower reduction by April 2007. This meant making tough decisions on how to continue doing business. I believe the transition from a hardcopy newspaper to a Web-based format is an innovative way to mission accomplishment, while alleviating the burden on a smaller workforce." 

I was resistant to the idea of the Eagle's transition as the editor because it was our main tool to tell your story. People would send a copy or two to their hometown to relatives and maybe catch a little ribbing in the office from co-workers. In some cases, those who were published in the base newspaper had to buy a round of drinks or a box of donuts for their office. 

I was conducting interviews at the Bob Hope village in 2005 with a group of Eglin members doing some debris clean-up after Hurricane Ivan. One of the residents showed me a framed and matted newspaper clipping from Pearl Harbor dated 1941. He was on the deck of a ship doing his job before the U.S. entered World War II. 

Out of all the military memorabilia he collected over the years, this newspaper clipping was the thing he cherished most. Someone telling his story all those years ago touched his life. 

That is what the Eglin Eagle did for countless people over the years. It told the story of Eglin Airmen and their families, bringing a sense of pride to the Emerald Coast -- making Eglin a home away from home. 

The print edition is going away, but we will continue to tell the Air Force story. The way we disseminate that same story will use the same delivery method -- at home or abroad. 

"A Web-based information-delivery system provides a number of benefits," said Col. Michelle Johnson, director of Air Force Public Affairs. Among the benefits: posting news releases in real time; providing access to home-station news from deployed locations and using the same delivery system at home and while deployed. 

Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne and other senior leaders are making their point clear -- the Air Force story isn't being told enough and the new Web based news system will provide even timelier information to the American public. 

"Our Air Force is counting on you to communicate your story like no one else can," Secretary Wynne said in his Aug. 7, 2006 Letter to Airmen: Every Airman is a Communicator. 

I have warmed up to the idea of the Web based news system like I think many will after the transition is complete. It may take a while for some while others are saying it's about time. 

The Eglin Eagle will live on telling the Air Force story -- just through a new format.
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