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Army prints its last Morning Calm newspaper in South Korea

Camp Humphreys, South Korea (Dale Kowalewski)

The final edition of the Morning Calm, the last surviving Army newspaper in South Korea, ran off the press Wednesday evening.

A peninsula-wide institution, the biweekly Morning Calm detailed the lives of soldiers from Busan in the south to Camp Casey near the Demilitarized Zone.

It went the same way as many struggling newspapers in a wired world of instant shares and likes when Eighth Army commander Lt. Gen. Michael Bills declined to renew its contract this month.

Closing the paper will give public affairs staff more time to focus on local news and communicate with communities online, Camp Humphreys spokesman Bob McElroy said.

“They all felt that the time they devoted to the paper would be better used to focus on their communities rather than producing articles and photos that were outdated by the time the paper came out every two weeks,” he said.

The newspaper, financed with advertising sold by its commercial publisher, didn’t cost the Army anything but, McElroy said, its production was time consuming. His shop alone spent 50 hours on each publication. That time will be better spent on digital apps and social media, he said.

The Morning Calm was the last of a long line of newspapers that provided command-approved news on the peninsula since before the Korean War.

When it launched in 2002, it absorbed older titles such as the Yongsan Garrison’s Seoul Word and the Southern Star in Daegu, sparing only the 2nd Infantry Division’s Indianhead, which became a monthly magazine in 2012.

“The Morning Calm was the brainchild of Dennis Bohannon,” said John Nowell, who worked at the newspaper from 2002 to 2007. Bohannon, a public affairs officer, founded the Southern Star and then pushed for the country-wide newspaper, Nowell said.

“It was a challenge in that we would have to get input from all [of South Korea],” he said. “It got stories out that people were not aware of in the other areas.”

A peninsula-wide publication let people in Busan or Daegu know what was happening at Camp Casey, Red Cloud or Yongsan, said Nowell, adding that he’d miss the feel of a fresh Army paper without the Morning Calm.

“It was a great paper,” he said.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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