• Lamp newspaper marks 40th anniversary

  • The Fort Leavenworth Lamp enters its 40th year of publication April 8.

    But the Lamp is not Fort Leavenworth’s first newspaper. The Fort Leavenworth News published its first weekly edition Jan. 5, 1940 as a two-page mimeograph. On Nov. 14, 1942, it became a true newspaper with publication of a four-page letterpress edition. During the World War II years, the four-page Fort Leavenworth News became the eight-page Fort Leavenworth RECEPTION CENTER News, reflecting a shift in the post’s mission and the induction of almost 400,000 Soldiers at the tiny frontier post.


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  • The Fort Leavenworth Lamp enters its 40th year of publication April 8.
    But the Lamp is not Fort Leavenworth’s first newspaper. The Fort Leavenworth News published its first weekly edition Jan. 5, 1940 as a two-page mimeograph. On Nov. 14, 1942, it became a true newspaper with publication of a four-page letterpress edition. During the World War II years, the four-page Fort Leavenworth News became the eight-page Fort Leavenworth RECEPTION CENTER News, reflecting a shift in the post’s mission and the induction of almost 400,000 Soldiers at the tiny frontier post.
    The 1940s-era News had a distinct flavor to it, twice each month pushing blood and bond drives on the front page, while dishing unit gossip and inside jokes, club and sports news, and cheesecake photos of Hollywood actresses on the inside. The News was an “Army authorized” publication and did not accept advertising. Stories and photographs were produced by Soldiers in the Troop Information and Education Office, and the newspaper publication by a commercial printer in downtown Leavenworth was paid for with non-appropriated funds.
    The post-World War II News struggled to stay alive as its audience and budget shrank. Finally, after years of cutting distribution and staff as far as possible, the News managed to wrap up its coverage of the post’s 125th anniversary and printed its last edition Nov. 7, 1952.
    “The primary function of a post newspaper is to bolster morale of troops and to act as a source of information not otherwise available to military personnel,” reads the final News editorial. “It is hoped that, within the limitations of space and publications dates, the News has succeeded in fulfilling this purpose.”
    For more than 18 years, Fort Leavenworth did not have a post newspaper.
    Then, on April 8, 1971, a new publication appeared on Fort Leavenworth. Its front page, full-color illustration of Jesus ministering a group of haggard GIs among concertina wire could easily have led people to believe that it was some sort of religious publication. The page proclaimed “The Theme is Rebirth,” and referred to Easter, Passover, MIAs and POWs, as well as Fort Leavenworth’s post paper.
    The 20-page weekly tabloid was a “civilian enterprise” newspaper, meaning a civilian contractor sold advertisements to cover the costs of printing and distribution (as well as secure earnings), while the fort’s Public Affairs Office, representing the Fort Leavenworth commander, provided and approved the paper’s news and editorial content. The Fort Leavenworth Lamp has remained a weekly “CE” tabloid for 40 years and is published at no cost to the government.
    Lt. Col. Robert Simpson, a Command and General Staff College instructor, won a contest to name the newspaper. Among 28 other suggestions were “Sir Echo,” “Brass Mirror,” “Fort Leavenworth Dispatch,” “The Dragoon,” “Post Parade,” “Outpost” and “Dirty Damned Lying Press.”
    In 1991, the Lamp was officially renamed the Fort Leavenworth Lamp to avoid a trademark conflict with “The Lamp,” a corporate publication of the Exxon oil company.
    Page 2 of 2 - Since 1971, the Lamp has gone through countless staff members, and numerous design and style changes. The Fort Leavenworth News was staffed entirely by Soldiers and that’s how the Lamp was staffed for most of its 40 years. The Lamp is currently staffed by one Army civilian editor and three contract employees. The Lamp and its staff have garnered scores of Army and Kansas Press Association journalism awards over the years, and still strive to improve.
    A tabloid-format newspaper since its first issue, the Lamp switched to a larger metro or broadsheet format in March 2008. The change to broadsheet meant higher quality printing on better paper and had other plusses, including color capability on nearly every page, more design options, and two sections, essentially meaning there are two front pages every week.
    Most recently, the Lamp was named the top metro-format newspaper in Installation Management Command’s 2010 Major General Keith L. Ware Journalism Competition, finishing first ahead of much larger newspapers from much larger installations.
    The Combined Arms Research Library has the most complete collection of the News and Lamp, as well as several short-run mimeograph predecessors dating back to 1904, on microfilm. Digital archives of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp since October 2000 can be accessed through the website www.ftleavenworthlamp.com.