By Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsSeptember 3, 2012
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Sept. 4, 2012) -- After a brief but fruitful existence as the latest incarnation of U.S. Army Japan's official command information publication, the Rising Sun newspaper will make a committed, and most would say inevitable, shift into the digital age by becoming an online-exclusive news site.
The Sept. 20 issue will be the final printed edition of the "Rising Sun," after which all news and feature content such as articles, photos and videos from throughout U.S. Army Japan and its tenant units will be hosted at www.army.mil/RisingSun, a dedicated page on the Army's official website.
The page is already live and features links to more than a dozen of the most recent articles and videos produced by journalists and broadcasters assigned to Honshu and Okinawa. The intent is for the Rising Sun page to become the new go-to source for informative, engaging and timely news on the Army in Japan. This goal is succinctly expressed in a banner headline near the top of the page: to be "The Army's Home in the Land of the Rising Sun."
A number of factors led to the decision for this change, including cost issues, readership data and customer feedback. However, the most immediate and obvious reason centered on the desire to deliver the most up-to-date content via what has become, and will likely remain, the world's leading outlet for information: the Internet.
Since the birth of modern journalism, it has been the core responsibility of news organizations, regardless of their preferred format or affiliation, to provide the public with objective explanations of world events. But it is not enough for the news to just be accurate anymore -- it must be fast.
This constant need for new content first became evident with the rise of the 24-hour news cycle. In recent years, that landscape once dominated by TV networks like CNN has expanded to include a network of online sources like Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds.
Most remaining military news publications are printed on a weekly, semimonthly, monthly or even quarterly basis. While there has never been a question about the quality of the content produced by the Army's vast team of experienced Soldier and civilian journalists, the issue of timeliness is indisputable.
The constraints inherent in smaller Army Public Affairs Offices, be they budgetary or manpower-related, leave the printed products of even the most productive and dedicated news staffs -- and, more importantly, their customers -- at least seven days behind the curve.
It is also impossible to ignore the influence of both modern technology and social media on how people today get their information. Home computers, smartphones and digital tablets are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Major corporations are devoting more money and resources to expanding their reach to a customer base that spends a significant amount of time online.
With www.army.mil/RisingSun, the U.S. Army Garrison Japan command information team now has a way to provide the USARJ and Army communities with the same extensive coverage of news and community events, but via a much more immediate avenue. Visitors can expect regular updates to the most recent top stories, as well as embedded videos and links to other official USAG-J resources such as the unit's Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo pages.
Much of the same content can be found on the official USAG-J website, http://www.usagj.jp.pac.army.mil, as well as a news slideshow, a live feed of the unit's Facebook wall, and archives of the Rising Sun print edition. The website also has a searchable phone directory, information for newcomers, weather updates and a wealth of other resources.
The "Rising Sun," known as the "Torii," and USARJ "Challenger" before that, was in print for more than four decades. During its existence, the newspaper and its staff were recognized numerous times at the Pacific-, Installation Management Command- and Army-wide level for journalistic excellence. Though the online transition and end of the printed edition are significant changes, the current staff fully intends to continue to maintain that reputation for integrity and standard of professionalism.