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Farewell El Tigre; hello social media

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Maj. Gabe Johnson)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Maj. Gabe Johnson)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Yes, the Fall 2011 edition of El Tigre, due out by Oct. 1, will be the last printed copy of the newsletter ever produced. What was once delivered by the U.S. Postal Service to your mailbox is now available in your email inbox, on the base website, or on Facebook and Twitter.

I've asked the public affairs office to make a transition that will allow the pages of the base newsletter to live on, but in a way that makes sense financially given all of the advancements in the way we communicate in our everyday lives.

The wing's leap into social media is by far the most exciting aspect of this change. If you have a Facebook or a Twitter account you can keep up with the unit and share your own Guard-related stories and information. There are links to the 162nd's Facebook and Twitter pages on the wing's public website homepage at www.162fw.ang.af.mil making it easy to "Like" or "Follow" the unit.

With these new tools comes a measure of responsibility. I want you to feel free to post on these pages but keep operational security and professionalism in mind. This is a great way to spread the word about Junior Enlisted Council events, family programs, retirements, promotions, and anything of interest to your fellow Airmen. Just remember the core values before you post on these or any social media site.

As we embrace new technology, we commemorate one of the wing's great traditions. Unit members and their families have received base news in the form of our beloved newsletter El Tigre since 1959.

The paper will be missed by all, but this change is not unique to our wing. Across the Department of Defense newspapers have fallen by the wayside in exchange for electronic forms of mass communication. Government-funded publications, like El Tigre, have had to take on other forms.

"But active duty bases have printed newspapers..." you may be thinking. Those are produced by contractors at no cost to the government and revenue is created through advertisement sales. They simply take the articles and photos from base websites to create those papers. Unfortunately, El Tigre just doesn't have a large enough circulation to attract enough advertisers to make this an option.

Since 2008, base news has been published on the wing's public website. In fact, it appears there as it happens - sometimes weeks or months before El Tigre is printed. If you haven't become familiar with the site I encourage you to pay it a visit. All of the latest articles and photos are right there for you on the site homepage.

It's understandable that not everyone will frequent the website. So to help with this, public affairs will email an electronic version of El Tigre to anyone who subscribes to it. On the wing's homepage click the link for "Subscribe to El Tigre Online" and each month you'll get an electronic version of the newsletter - a digest of articles previously posted online - in your email. This is an option for those who seek it out. You won't be spammed and you can un-subscribe at any time.

Finally, I congratulate all members of the public affairs staff, current and former, who have dedicated so much to consistently make El Tigre the best newsletter in the Air National Guard. The paper is a 52-year chronicle of our time together in the 162nd Fighter Wing. Its positive impact on generations of Tucson Guardsmen is immeasurable. Job well done.