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AFPS, Pentagon Channel, Social Media to Merge as ‘DoD News’

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., June 30, 2014 – To better serve the service members and civilian employees of the Defense Department and their families with the latest news about DoD, officials at the Defense Media Activity here are combining three platforms to form a new division they said will better deliver news and information.

On July 8, American Forces Press Service, the Pentagon Channel and Defense Department Social Media are combining as DoD News.

“This merger allows us to harness the power of our delivery platforms while meeting the expectations of our ever-changing audience,” said Cathy Milhoan, DMA's DoD Production director.

New elements of DoD News will include an enhanced website at Defense.gov, integration of Web and video news and features products and a more comprehensive social media conversation, Milhoan said.

The DoD News broadcast channel will provide up-to-date coverage of the most important issues in the Defense Department. Viewers will find an up-to-the minute news ticker that will feature defense news from around the world. New segments – DoD News Now, DoD News Update and DoD News Live -- also will launch on the broadcast channel. Throughout the day, military audiences will be able to view leadership briefings, congressional hearings and similar news events of interest to service members.

AFPS is the oldest brand affected by the consolidation. It began during the Vietnam War as Armed Forces Press File, and was renamed as American Forces Press Service in 1972. From its inception through most of the rest of the 20th century, it was a weekly mailing of camera-ready feature articles, photos and graphics for editors to use in installation newspapers.

Then, the World Wide Web changed everything. With the ability to make articles available to readers directly and as soon as they were written and edited, AFPS evolved into a news service. It continued to be available to installation newspaper editors, but also became available to anyone with an Internet connection.

As AFPS transformed from a feature service for military newspapers to a real-time news outlet for the Defense Department, its reporters began traveling with the secretary of defense and other leaders to report on their activities around the world, and they began covering news events in the Pentagon and wherever DoD-related news was happening.

The Pentagon Channel launched May 14, 2004, with a live broadcast from the Armed Forces Day joint-service open house at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. Since then, it has been on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, available to all military installations in the United States via domestic satellite and overseas through the American Forces Radio and Television Service.

The channel continued to evolve, presenting newscasts and original programming, and its reach branched out to include major cable television providers throughout the United States, making it available to service members, civilian employees and their families living outside the installation’s gates.

As social media began to proliferate in the past decade, the Defense Department stood up an “emerging media” branch to reach its audience that way. Quickly, sites such as Twitter and Facebook became far too developed to be thought of as “emerging,” and officials learned that each outlet the department was using to reach its audience could and should complement one another.

Milhoan acknowledged that the change turns the page on some long-established brands, but she pledged that the consolidated effort will be stronger than the sum of its parts.

“We are bringing a lot of experience to bear here, and now that our new team has begun to work together closely, I believe the consolidated effort will build a successful new brand,” she said. “I think our readers, viewers and followers will be able to identify more readily with all of our products.”

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