Not offset but online, Wisconsin National Guard press dispatches go digital

  • Published
  • By Sgt. 1st Class Vaughn R. Larson
  • Wisconsin Army National Guard
"Bye-Bye BAM," began a recent post on the 115th Fighter Wing's website signaling October's monthly newsletter as the final print product, and the transition to an online publication.

But the Badger Air Militia, better known as BAM, isn't the only Wisconsin Guard publication going "green" - The Tankard, from the 128th Air Refueling Wing and At Ease, the Wisconsin Guard's official command information publication, has also made the switch from hard copy to an online publication.

Discontinuing publishing printed command information publications is part of the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and National Guard's communications plan to maximize use of limited resources while communicating essential, sometimes life saving, information to internal and external audiences.

"In today's fast paced technological society, it is essential that we use the most effective tools to get information to not only our Soldiers and Airmen but also the people of Wisconsin," said Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the Adjutant General of Wisconsin and commander of the Wisconsin National Guard.

For the BAM and The Tankard, the ultimate decision to go paperless came from Air Force Instruction (AFI) 35-101, which recently stipulated that Air Force funds cannot be used to publish newsletters or yearbooks.

Many considerations factored into the decision to publish At Ease exclusively online, according to Maj. Jackie Guthrie, director of public affairs. Cost was one - a different sort of "green" benefit - but getting timely, relevant information to our audiences was key to the final decision, she said.

In the past, "going to press" involved several steps between writing the story or taking the photograph and opening the glossy pages of At Ease. Sidestepping the physical printing process makes the final product much more immediate and timely for the reader, and accessible anywhere the Internet can be found.

Audiences of all publications will reap the advantages of this transition, Guthrie said. News is not only more timely but also available in multiple formats including video. Readers can download articles, pictures and videos and "share" via online social networking sites such as Facebook. The websites can also be accessed on the go via web enabled mobile devices.

The eco-friendly side to online publishing coincides with giving the consumer a direct say in how to access the final product. The online format allows the reader to print as few or as many pages as desired - like a personal "on-demand publishing" venue. Overall, this can mean a great reduction in paper and ink consumption. Likewise, distribution of an online product is accomplished with a few keyboard strokes, as opposed to the fuel and other resources required to print, package and deliver hard copies to homes across the state and nation.