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El Tigre to go quarterly: Modernizing the way we think about base news

TUCSON, Ariz. -- It's been said, "Change is coming." Now, change is here. El Tigre News will convert from a monthly publication to a quarterly publication this year. 

We will publish El Tigre as a monthly publication through June, and starting in September readers will see the "Fall 2009" edition; the first quarterly version of the base newsletter. 

The Air Force and Air National Guard are leading us all down a road to ween us from printed newspapers and newsletters, an 18th Century innovation, in exchange for a modern approach to communication, Web sites and videos. 

New regulations will soon prohibit wings from funding base newspapers. Across the Air Force, manning in public affairs has been cut by 33 percent since 2006. Over recent years here at the wing, public affairs and multimedia staff has dropped from seven full-time personnel down to two. 

For these reasons, unit-funded publications are being discontinued around the world, and the frequency of El Tigre needs to be reduced. 

Here at the 162nd, we have a unique audience of supportive retirees and community members. Therefore, I have decided to keep El Tigre going on a quarterly basis which will serve as a digest of news and articles to keep them connected and informed. In addition, the retirees' office will continue to produce the Retirees' Newsletter

For timely news, the 162nd Fighter Wing public Web site at www.162fw.ang.af.mil will be our resource. 

I know this is a big change for some. It's only natural to think the wing commander's primary communication tool is strictly the base newsletter. After all, El Tigre News has been the most visible communication product at the wing for decades. 

Each month public affairs assembles the newsletter on my behalf to communicate to you the latest news, information and guidance as well as mission features and people profiles to highlight your achievements and contributions. And they've always done an outstanding job. 

However, the problems with newsletters today are many. Space is limited. The news is nearly a month old by the time El Tigre reaches your mailbox. Bulk mail can be unreliable causing you to miss the newsletter or receive it after drill. And the cost of printing and mailing needs to draw down in light of new budget challenges. 

Twelve issues of El Tigre costs the wing about $33,600 per year. A quarterly publication will save us about $19,000. In today's financial situation, every dollar counts. 

Today's Guard calls for new communication methods. I, as well as other base leaders, need to communicate to you more than once a month. The pace of current operations, the size of our full- and part-time force, and the speed of communication in the information age demand it. 

The answer is online. You are all familiar with the wing's public Web site, but I want to encourage each of you to become more than "familiar" with it. It's my hope that you begin a habit of checking the Web site at least once or twice per week. 

To be clear, this site is my new primary communication tool. 

Having launched about one year ago, our public Web site isn't exactly new to the wing. The word "new" refers to my heightened commitment to this medium and my hope that wing members, retirees, families and Tucson community members will come to rely on the site for virtually all wing-related news and information. 

The site contains everything found in El Tigre News, and more. In addition to news and feature articles, users can find the weekend lunch menu, fact sheets, videos, photos, graphics, scholarship information, events and links to other helpful resources. In fact, you'll even find this article on the site in the "Commentaries" section of the home page. 

It's the default home page on all base workstations making it easy to check at work. 

It's a public site that anyone can view at home, so there is no need for passwords or common access cards, and it's simple to add the site to your "favorites" menu at home. I strongly recommend this especially to all of our drill status Guardsmen who are, in a sense, "disconnected" from the wing between drills. 

Best of all, as an Air Force-funded program, it's free for the wing. 

Remember when e-mail was a new concept to the unit? It wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms at the time, but today it's hard to imagine a workplace without it. That was a cultural change that illustrates the change we need to make when thinking about keeping up on wing news and events. 

Before you send out another base-wide e-mail, ask yourself, "Should this be posted to the Web site instead?" 

Before you submit news to PA for publication in El Tigre, think about submitting it for the Web site. 

When your drill status Guardsmen report to drill ask them if they saw the notice about the golf tournament scheduled for May 4. If they don't use the site they may start because as a supervisor, you have shown them that it's important to you. 

This is how I propose we begin to change our culture of communication across the 162nd. 

The public affairs staff is available to answer any questions you may have. They can be reached at 295-6192, or 162fw.pa@aztucs.ang.af.mil.