Hilltop Times; new process, same great information
/ Published June 21, 2007
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Hilltop Times is about to go through the biggest change it has seen since it's inception in the 1940s.
The July 5 Hilltop Times will look just like previous issues of the paper, but it will be produced entirely (content gathering, layout and design) by Ogden Publishing Corporation, the current publisher of the paper. The 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office will continue to write stories, but will deliver the information in ways other than a base newspaper.
The public affairs career field, just like so many other career fields, is beginning to realize its 28 percent cut in manpower under Program Budget Directive 720. Under Air Force Smart Operations 21 principles, a 19-member group of public affairs officials determined the best way to deal with manpower issues, while still providing the customer with quality information, was to stop producing base newspapers.
In a November 2006 letter from Brig. Gen. Michelle Johnson, Air Force Public Affairs director, to all public affairs offices and commanders, she explained how the wider audience (deployed Airmen, Reservists and Airmen on leave) would benefit from efforts to produce more information in a more timely manner.
"Most importantly," wrote the general about transitioning away from hard copy newspapers, "it allows us to re-focus the time spent on layout and design to more relevant and timely content. Material can be drafted, reviewed and online within one working day vice the current average of four to nine days."
"Now more than ever, the (public affairs) career field needs to leverage technology and focus on key audiences, rather than continuing what have become unsustainable legacy processes."
With known pending deployments, the 75th Air Base Wing commander, 75 PA Office and Ogden Publishing Corporation have concluded that now is the time to transition the Hilltop Times into the type of publication many other Air Force bases have had success with. By October, it is estimated that 80 percent of all Air Force base newspapers will be non-existent in the format they were produced in just a year ago. Some bases have gotten rid of the legacy printed copy altogether.
Here, Ogden Publishing Corporation will continue to produce the Hilltop Times under the same name and with the same standards the 75 PA Office produces the paper under now.
If all goes well, the transition will be transparent to the end user, although people should notice an improvement in timeliness and quality of news posted to the Hill AFB Web page. The huge savings in man-hours will allow the public affairs team to meet deployment requirements while concentrating their efforts on getting information out more quickly on the Internet. Just as Hill AFB led the way with the initiative to stop issuing base vehicle decals, the base is leading Air Force Material Command with this newspaper transition.
(The 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office submitted this story)