MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Since the 1950s, residents of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni have received their news via the station newspaper. However, this edition marks an end to the nearly 60-year tradition of delivering paper-in-hand news, as this is the final print edition of The Iwakuni Approach.
While moving forward to get in line with emerging technology and social media, it is first important to look back at how far news delivery has come over the years. The first newspaper at MCAS Iwakuni was The Torii Teller.
While not originally a newspaper, The Torii Teller started out as a single-sheet news flyer designed by servicemembers. Their goal was to provide servicemembers and families with local and world news, television schedules and comics – the basic news and information/entertainment package. In the beginning, correspondents had to go cover a story, take photos, write the story and then develop the photos in a dark room. There were no digital cameras, so it was a hit-ormiss effort, with just one chance at taking a good photo. After the story was written, it was revised by a copy editor and then printers picked individual letters from a box and placed them in their proper order to form words that created a printable page. Then, editors read it for errors. Such was the weekly grind of correspondents working for The Torii Teller.
The Torii Teller changed formats in the 1960s, delivering news via a magazine format. During this time, The Torii Teller reported on world events, such as the Vietnam War, making sure to provide station residents up-to-date information.
The Torii Teller remained a magazine until July 7, 2000, when it became a tabloid-format newspaper. Now a tabloid-format newspaper, The Torii Teller focused on delivering feature-based articles, command information, news briefs and classified postings.
Although The Torii Teller was a staple among station residents, as well as the winner of various Thomas Jefferson awards - the military’s highest award given to print and broadcast journalists - the paper was discontinued in 2005 due to budgetary constraints.
For two years, the station’s public affairs staff attempted to deliver timely news through an online publication. Shortly thereafter, officials determined that a print newspaper still had a role in delivering news to MCAS Iwakuni, and they introduced a completely redesigned paper at the air station.
The first edition of The Iwakuni Approach arrived in 2008, featuring a full-color front page and center pages within the tabloidformat newspaper.
The Iwakuni Approach provided readers news on events, such as Operation Tomodachi, and covered exercises in the Pacific Region Bangladesh and Australia. However, much of the news and information, once delivered exclusively through the station paper, could now be found faster and more conveniently on the internet.
Today, reporters cover news and readers consume it at a much faster pace. Smart phones allow reporters to capture an event and upload it quickly to the internet. Social media connects different groups - groups once separated by thousands of miles.
It is now possible to connect a story in Iwakuni to a reader the United States moments after the story breaks. Technology now allows a person, from anywhere in the world, to see photos taken by Marines and sailors stationed in Iwakuni faster than what it took combat correspondents to simply develop their photos when The Torii Teller was a fledgling publication.
These reasons, and scores more, are why this is the final issue of The Iwakuni Approach. The endstate of the transition is to provide news to the reader in a much more timely and connected manner. With the implementation of photo sharing sites and social media, friends and family members will have the ability to save and share news and photos of their loved ones, thousands of miles away in Iwakuni, with just a click of the mouse.
Although the method of news delivery is changing for the combat correspondents here, the mission of informing the internal and external audiences in a timely and thorough manner is not. For readers looking to stay informed about MCAS Iwakuni, its tenant commands and unitdeployment- program squadrons, there are a couple websites to follow: - The official MCAS Iwakuni website, at http://www.mcasiwakuni.marine.mil - The station’s Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/MCASIwakuniJapan. - The station’s Flickr page, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcasiwakuni.