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Public Affairs turns to a new way of doing business

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Today's edition of the Mile High Guardian is the last issue of Buckley Air Force Base's newspaper.

The 460th Space Wing Public Affairs Office will still continue to write Buckley-specific news stories, features, viewpoints and star performers. But now, stories will be located on Buckley's new Web site, www.buckley.af.mil. Same name as the old public Web site, only now it follows the same format as the Air Force's public Web site and the Public Affairs Office will now manage the content on the site.

I have been in the Public Affairs career field since March, when I graduated from the Defense Information School at Fort George G. Meade, Md. The majority of what I learned there was about producing a base newspaper, along with writing stories, learning how to interact with the media and community and taking pictures.

In the short time I have been in this office, I have had the pleasure to work with or meet five of the 10 editors of the Guardian. Even though I have only been here six months, I feel like I have a lot more time invested into the newspaper.

My father-in-law, retired Lt. Col. Bruce Collins, was the Public Affairs officer here when Lowry Air Force Base closed and the Lowry Airman became the Mile High Guardian. Colonel Collins hired the first editor of the Guardian, Mr. John Spann, who is now my boss.

That is only the beginning of how small the Air Force is, but that is neither here nor there.

Of course there are pros and cons to disbanding the newspaper. But the pros, in my book, definitely outweigh the cons. In our house, the PA shop, this will give me, the new guy, a chance to learn other aspects of the PA career field rather than plugging away all week with the newspaper.

I will learn community relations, where I can tell the Air Force story to the outside world so they can better understand our mission here at Buckley.

I will learn the media relations side so I will know how to deal with them when things like the immigration raid on the family housing construction company happened. I will learn what to do in situations like that.

And, probably the biggest thing as far as the "big picture" is concerned, the PA shop will have more people around to help with other jobs. In my own rough estimate, we will be saving approximately 60 man-hours a week by going online.

Another benefit to going online is stories will be updated on the web immediately. Gone are the days of an event happening on Thursday and it not being covered until the next Friday. As soon as we are done planning, interviewing, writing and editing a story, it can be posted on the Web the same day. So now when something happens on a Thursday, you can read about it Thursday.

The best way for me, the new guy, to sum up the way the Air Force distributes its news is to put it in these terms - crew chief terms. Before I came into the public affairs career field I was a crew chief on KC-135s and RC-135s.

I can look at it this way. The 135 has been flying for 50 years now, and with that comes a lot of maintenance to keep that aircraft flying. It seemed like every year inspections would come closer and closer together. Every phase inspection, we had to take some new part off because another base found a crack in one of their planes in some crazy place.

If the Air Force goes "high tech" and buys or loans new tankers there would be less work and that is where I come to the reasoning for going online with the paper.

We go high-tech and we cut down on time spent producing the newspaper.

And, in these days of force shaping where every career field is losing people, we need to find where we can cut down on where we spend our time. This saves us a tremendous amount of time.

The Public Affairs Shop and I hope you enjoy the new way you receive your news. Good bye Mile High Guardian.