As printing ceases, Frontline continues to evolve
It was once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Earlier this month, we learned The Frontline newspaper would no longer be a printed publication. We’ve always known that the change would one day come, but as it stares us in the face we can’t help but reminisce on how far we’ve come since the Frontline made it’s way to Fort Stewart.
The Frontline first got it’s start in 1944, a then-weekly publication that was produced as a way for Soldiers and Families to stay connected to the 3rd Division while overseas during World War II. It wasn’t until 1996, when the 3rd Infantry Division made it’s home on Fort Stewart, that the Frontline found it’s way to the countless doorsteps and buildings across the installation.
In 1996, Jim Jeffcoat was the first civilian to earn the title of managing editor. The paper had a fairly large military and civilian staff; putting out the weekly paper using computers and using desktop publishing software; a then recent change from the old school cut and paste days.
During this time, The Frontline caught the attention of Pat Young, a then-123rd Signal Battalion officer who was interested in journalism. After a tour around the facility, Young marveled at the innovation and that would soon grow into a passion for reporting the news to the Soldiers, Families, and civilians on the installation.
As a civilian, Young joined the Fort Stewart Garrison Public Affairs team in 2006. Jeffcoat was still there – albeit with a much smaller staff. But Young quickly learned that just like time, technology also marches on. And as Jeffcoat taught him during those early days— no matter how things change, the most important part of the mission will always be to ensure Soldiers, Families and community members stay informed.
In 2013 Jeffcoat retired and passed the reigns to Elvia Kelly, who held the managing editor title until 2016.
Upon Kelly’s departure, Young seized the opportunity to become the managing editor of The Frontline. It was then that Jeffcoat’s truism was once again proven time and again. The newspaper continued to change as the design platforms evolved. Even the physical paper changed from a 36 page metro-format to a 24 page tabloid.
It was a sign of the times.
Surveys showed that people were more reliant on getting information from other sources – like the internet. The changes weren’t begrudged, instead they brought the reminder of Jeffcoat’s words— to always remain flexible and to adopt new tools to accomplish the mission.
In 2020, Young left his role as managing editor of The Frontline to begin a new adventure as the Chief of Public Affairs at Winn Army Community Hospital. It was then that Molly Cooke grabbed the reigns and assumed the managing editor role, where she has cultivated a love for telling the Army story each weekthrough The Frontline.
For the past 78 years, we’ve been with you through countless deployments, welcome home ceremonies, special events, new babies and more. And while reading a physical newspaper may see more and more like a dying art these days, it is important to note that our enthusiasm for telling the Army story is very much alive.
We encourage you to take the leap with us as we evolve into the digital era of storytelling. We simply cannot wait for you to see what’s in store next.