New Format, New Relationships
MCB CAMP S. D. BUTLER, Okinawa, Japan -- EDITORIAL: Our many fans and readers of our Okinawa Marine weekly newspaper, Facebook, Twitter social media and other internet sites will likely have noticed some recent changes in our content available to the public. In this first online commentary, we (Capt. Caleb D. Eames, as a public affairs officer, and Dr. Robert D. Eldridge, a consumer of public affairs information and community relations official) would like to introduce the most significant changes—the rapid production of news content and the potential increase in both the number and length of the stories—as a result of this new format.
Before we explain in detail how these changes benefit the reader, we would like to outline some of the changes and the reasoning behind them.
The biggest change you might have noticed is the end of production of the weekly, hard-copy newspaper formerly known as the Okinawa Marine. As many are aware, with the advent of new social media information availability, the paper copy newspaper had diminished in popularity and readership globally, with large papers and magazines going to online news only, with Newsweek (discontinued in 2012) as the most recent notable example. Figures from the Washington Post indicate that newspaper readership has declined from more than 30 percent of Americans in 1940 to less than 13 percent today. Here on the U.S. military installations, our Okinawa Marine newspaper went from a distribution of approximately 16,500 in 2003 to less than 6,000 in 2013. And of those 6,000 printed weekly, more than 50 percent of them were never taken off the stands and were later recycled, telling us that very few people on our bases ever picked the paper up.
As much of our readership was on-line already, we decided to continue in that direction with more of an emphasis. Since the popularity of social media has skyrocketed in recent years, the public affairs staff instituted social media sites including Facebook and Twitter in both English and Japanese in 2010. These sites were in addition to the several websites that already carried our information such as our English sites: www.okinawa.marines.mil, www.marines.mil and our Japanese site: www.okinawa.usmc.mil. We were confident that there was a huge audience following our news online, as during a recent exercise, we learned that an estimated 29 million individuals were viewing our content, much more than our hard-copy newspapers could reach.
Another factor in the decision to stop production was the sheer number of man-hours required to properly and accurately format, layout, edit and review the hard-copy newspaper. A staff of more than a dozen Marines had been dedicated to this effort full time, and those efforts are simply better served in producing immediate online content, and more of it.
The final major factor in the decision was the amount of time the newspaper slowed down the dissemination of content. With a weekly hard-copy newspaper, a story which was covered on Thursday, completed on Friday, and ready for publication Friday afternoon would often be held for distribution until the following Friday, or even later if the paper was already full. Simply put, the hard-copy paper slowed news dissemination down in some cases. Without it, the speed of content production has gone from weeks to days or even hours in special cases.
For the reader, these changes allow for quicker access to stories and the triple ability to access from anywhere the internet or WiFi is available, share with anyone in the world to include friends, family, colleagues, teachers, students, customers and civic leaders, and provide fast and direct feedback in the comment spaces depending on the application.
Equally important, there now is greater flexibility as stories can be of greater length and more of them may be posted online compared to the space limitations of the hard-copy, printed newspaper of old. This means that more information can be introduced in a single story, and there are more stories being produced about a variety of things, including those events or awe-inspiring stories you would not have normally heard about, like Marines in their off-duty time volunteering and, in several cases every year, saving the lives of our neighbors here in Okinawa who have been the victims of choking, heat strokes, automobile accidents, heart attacks, and other misfortunes.
Indeed, there were so many other stories the staff of the weekly newspaper could not possibly cover, but the online capabilities thankfully allow for more coverage. Some of these future stories might even include you. The Marine Corps organizes base tours and briefings through the regular Marine Corps 101 Seminar (http://www.dvidshub.net/news/129112/program-furthers-understanding-between-okinawa-citizens-us-marines), which our Okinawan friends can be a part of. Other open base events include the Camp Schwab Festival this month and the Futenma Flightline Fair next month.
And throughout past years, we have had numerous other activities, to include the Okinawa Osprey Family Day conducted in March 2013, which saw hundreds of local residents tour the newly arrived MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, speak with pilots and crew members, receive briefings, try on equipment, and ask questions of the environmental and training experts assembled, as part of continued efforts to promote transparency and mutual understanding. The event was a huge success, thanks especially to the large turnout by our neighbors here in Okinawa.
Marines and their families participate in many off-base events too, and help in the local community through a variety of volunteer projects, such as beach clean-ups, school visits, English classes, painting, cleaning, and grounds keeping at local school and welfare facilities, and providing financial assistance to local organizations.
We would also strongly encourage you, the reader, to write to us to suggest story ideas or ask questions about the Marine Corps or about our community relations activities, which we can reply to in order to further everyone’s understanding and continue to strengthen our mutual cooperation for a bright Japan-U.S. future.
We believe you will find the online formats even more interactive. The new formats, in other words, will lead to new relationships.
To see the multiple online news content sites and the multiple means of distribution, please visit any of the links below and share with your friends and neighbors.
Eames is a public affairs officer with the, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Installations Pacific Consolidated Public Affairs Office, and Eldridge, a 24-year resident of Japan, is the deputy assistant chief of staff, G-7 (Government and External Affairs), MCIPAC.Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/129820/editorial-new-format-new-relationships#.U3U5AcZsMsd#ixzz31pBmGppA
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