FORT LEE, Va. – The post newspaper here will be discontinued after its Jan. 28 edition.
Gannett, the publishing company printing the Traveller since 2017, informed the installation in October that it was experiencing significant financial losses from the product due to the lack of ad sales in the midst of COVID-19. In support of its military partners, the company agreed to continue production into the New Year.
Meanwhile, the Garrison Public Affairs Office made preparations for the shutdown, developing a digital alternative for news distribution – www.army.mil/lee. With that now established, the OK was given to suspend the contract and prevent further financial losses.
“We know this announcement will disappoint many loyal readers who counted on the Traveller week after week for Army news and information,” acknowledged Stephen Baker, PAO director. “For my team, it represents the end of an iconic publication that has served this installation for a little over 80 years (not counting its predecessor, the Camp Lee Sentinel). The Traveller endured when so many other military newspapers across the force went away in the past decade. It was part of the fabric of Fort Lee.”
Baker noted the publication’s website, fortleetraveller.com, also will be discontinued. The printed community guide and post map that was part of the same contract are going away as well. The final 2021 edition of the guide will be distributed to organizations across post during the first week of February.
“We’re already focusing on the new Digital Garrison app, launched in August by the Army Installation Management Command in partnership with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service,” he said. “Available for Android and Apple smartphones, it provides the same information as the guide and more. Plus, the information there is continuously updated.”
In addition to that, users can find FMWR event information and links to AAFES sales flyers and its online ordering site. The app is available to service members, government civilians, family members, retirees and others.
“It’s a great product,” Baker confirmed, “and it will keep getting better with new features being introduced in the near future.”
An August article that introduced the app can be found at www.army.mil/article/237660.
Addressing what news dissemination to the Fort Lee audience will look like in a post-newspaper world, Baker excitedly spoke about greater use of social media, new products being released throughout the work week, the ability to go after special reporting projects and delving into video broadcast stories.
“First, I want to make it clear that this new development should not be interpreted as a loss of Public Affairs support to the greater Fort Lee community,” he pointed out. “We’re looking at it as an opportunity to tell our story in a whole new way – one that capitalizes on digital media venues that are more popular among today’s consumers of news.
“My staff has already been pumping products into the new army.mil/lee page and we’re planning on more detailed reporting projects we couldn’t do before because of the hours we had to commit to producing the Traveller.
“We’re simply closing the chapter on the post newspaper being the ‘center of our universe’ for Fort Lee news,” Baker said. “The new vision is to tell the story in bigger, better, faster and more contemporary ways.”