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Fort Gordon shuts down its newspaper

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Fort Gordon’s newspaper has folded. Officials decided to close the on-post weekly newspaper, and the Feb. 25 edition was the last paper. One former editor said the base has had a newspaper since the 1950s.

“It’s sad,” said James Hudgins, who oversaw the newspaper as the head of public affairs for Fort Gordon before he retired 10 years ago. “We provided a lot of service to the community with that newspaper.”

The base newspaper was controlled by the Army, though it was laid out, printed and distributed by the Aiken Standard newspaper as part of a contract the Aiken paper had with the Department of the Army, said Anne Bowman, the current public affairs officer at Fort Gordon. But Hudgins had a staff of five full-time employees and one freelance writer when he oversaw The Signal, as the post newspaper was called then. At the end of the newspaper’s life it was down to one employee – Laura Levering, who became editor, writer and photographer and had to design the paper and turn over the layout to press workers at the Aiken Standard. Laura Levering was the last editor of the Fort Gordon News. The post newspaper had been The Signal and then The Fort Gordon Globe. Levering now edits. She said she did the best she could, “but the content suffered.”

After Hudgins’ retirement, The Signal became the Fort Gordon Globe. The name change was a reflection of Fort Gordon’s mission moving from traditional signal training with radios and satellites to cyber, with a greater effort, and much bigger budget, and an emphasis on computers, internet networks and computer defense and hacking. Then, the garrison commander decided the newspaper’s name should reflect all military units on Fort Gordon, including intelligence units, cyber, signal, military police, the Army Reserve and others, so they changed the name to Fort Gordon News, Bowman said. Larry Edmond became the editor of The Signal in 2009 and even back then he had an inkling the print edition would one day be gone.

“Even then digital was the way. It was the way of the world,” said Edmond, who is also retired. “I think there are less resources in the world. Digital is much more economical than print.”

Charmain Brackett worked as a freelance writer for The Signal for 11 years.  “It’s very sad to see it go completely,” said Brackett, who now works as managing editor for The Augusta Press, which is an online-only newspaper.

Brackett said she interviewed many people who were retiring and who had worked at Fort Gordon for 40 or 50 years.  “They all said the same thing – ‘I loved working with the people.’ That was true. I loved working with the people out there,” Brackett said.

She covered visits by four-star generals, interviewed incoming and outgoing post commanders, wrote about the post’s dinner theater and talked to soldiers who overcame devastating wounds from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She remembers soldiers who lost limbs and were fitted with the most advanced prosthetics from the Veterans Administration, which had partnered with Fort Gordon’s Eisenhower Medical Center to give medical care to those wounded soldiers. “It was almost like meeting a bionic man,” Brackett said.

She will never forget one Army captain who was blinded in combat, but determined to run a marathon. And he did.

Those type of stories will still be told, said Levering. But instead of being published on a post newspaper they will be on the U.S. Army’s public affairs website and Fort Gordon’s own micro website at www.army.mil/gordon.

Joshua B. Good is a staff reporter covering Columbia County and military/veterans’ issues for The Augusta Press. Reach him at joshua@theaugustapress.com