By Joseph PiekJune 19, 2018
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The June 15 Northwest Guardian represents the end of an era - you're reading the final edition of an award-winning, weekly base newspaper that's served this installation with distinction for nearly 30 years.
Over the years, it's been a key source for base-related news, features and need-to-know information for, first Fort Lewis, and then, after 2010, the entire Joint Base Lewis-McChord community.
So it's with a touch of sadness, I'm reporting the retirement of the JBLM Northwest Guardian newspaper. Like many veterans, I fondly recall the days (before smartphones and social media) when people on military bases looked forward to picking up a copy of their weekly installation newspaper.
Unfortunately, that's not the case anymore. Each week, most printed copies of the Northwest Guardian sit untouched in their red newspaper boxes across JBLM. That's where they remain until the next week when they're picked up for recycling.
Sad as it is, it's the sign of the times. It's happening to newspapers nationwide as the industry evolves from traditional print products to modern digital formats.
Of course, this isn't the end of JBLM news. In fact, it's only the beginning. Although the Northwest Guardian will no longer be published, its faithful readers will still have 24/7 access to the same great JBLM news articles via JBLM's Facebook page and Twitter site. These articles will be published on a regular basis, so loyal readers will be able to keep up to speed regarding JBLM events as they occur via their smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
Moving forward, my promise to you is that my staff will continue to publish online the same high-quality articles and photos that made the JBLM Northwest Guardian consistently one of Department of Defense's best newspapers. Over the past 15 years, the JBLM Northwest Guardian staff was always a top competitor in the annual Department of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Journalism competition.
The Northwest Guardian won the Army's Best Civilian Enterprise News Publication honors in 2003-2007, 2011, 2014 and 2016 - that's eight times in 15 years. The Northwest Guardian also won DOD's Thomas Jefferson Award in 2004, 2006, 2014 and 2016.
For 2017, the Northwest Guardian finished second at the IMCOM-level, honorable mention at the Army-level and, ultimately, earning second place at the DOD-level. So, you can't win them all.
That record of excellence is a tribute to past and present staff members who write, take photographs, copy edit stories and layout and design each week's newspaper.
In 1990, the Northwest Guardian was produced in the I Corps Public Affairs office by a professional team of military, civilian and contract journalists. Since 1995, the newspaper has been printed by the Tacoma News Tribune as part of a no-cost commercial enterprise contract. In 2003, the Northwest Guardian editor was a Soldier, but for the past 15 years, the editor has been an Army civil service employee with the JBLM Garrison Public Affairs office.
I would like to thank the current members of our Tacoma News Tribune contract team, Scott Hansen, photojournalist/page designer; Dean Siemon, journalist; and Ruth Kingsland, journalist. They represent a long line of professionals who have dedicated their days, evenings and weekends to ensuring JBLM-related events were covered.
I'd like to thank former editors David Kuhns (2003 to 2010) and Don Kramer (2011 to 2014) who made the Northwest Guardian the best in the business.
I'd also like to thank the Northwest Guardian's current editor, Bud McKay, and assistant editor, Pamela Kulokas. They've carried on this tradition of excellence since 2015 and will continue this tradition via JBLM's Facebook page and Twitter site.
I've had the pleasure of watching these experts meet deadlines and produce the Northwest Guardian every week. Trust me - it's a true labor of love.
Although no one on JBLM will publish a printed weekly newspaper after today, McKay and Kulokas, along with military and civilian public affairs professionals on base, will continue to write articles about our service members and military families. In short, we will continue to cover base events just like we always have.
JBLM stories will be resident on a new website called JBLM News at https://www.army.mil/jblm. We will continue to share these articles on social media, just like we've been doing.
On behalf of all the civilian and military journalists who have contributed to the quality and success of our base newspaper, I can only say to our readers, thank you. It's been an honor producing the Northwest Guardian for you.
In closing, let me share another journalistic custom with you. Traditionally journalists will submit articles to editors with "-30-" centered in the column at the end - indicating the end of a story. It's one of the first things I learned as a cub reporter on my high school newspaper staff in 1978.
So with that, I'll conclude this final editorial and say farewell to the JBLM Northwest Guardian.