RIP Early Bird: 1948–2013

RIP Early Bird: 1948–2013

Friday morning, the Early Bird’s grim reaper left an offering in the Pentagon press bullpen —  a box of Popeye’s chicken with a note that read: “RIP” with a fried chicken wing sitting on top.

And with that, Nov. 1 will be remembered as the day the Early Bird was pronounced dead.

The Early Bird was a collection of stories put together by public affairs officials early each morning and sent out across the Defense Department via email and posted on the military’s intranet. Troops depended on the Early Bird to find out what was going on outside their individual units and get a better understanding of the entire military. The Early Bird was especially important to those who worked at computers that had significant firewalls that limited internet browsing.


However, the Early Bird did have its enemies. Some Pentagon leaders felt the Early Bird carried too much importance as the selection of stories was sent across the Defense Department. And some news agencies complained that the Early Bird was infringing on their copyrights.

Yet, for most service members, the Early Bird was the first thing you read while finishing that first cup of coffee in the morning.

The first signs of trouble started on Oct. 1, the first day of the government shutdown. The Early Bird was considered non-essential similar and the product was temporarily suspended as most public affairs civilians were stuck with temporary furloughs during the same time.

However, when the shutdown ended, the Early Bird didn’t come back and rumors swirled around the Pentagon would not return.

Col. Steven H. Warren, the director of Defense Press Operations, is the one who made the decision to end the Early Bird and also the one who delivered the box of fried chicken to the Pentagon press bullpen where independent military reporters work.

Warren told the New York Times that he had been considering the end of the Early Bird for awhile saying the Early Bird had become “the tail that wagged the dog.”

“A small story that lands in the Bird can have a big impact, since we provided a vastly enlarged readership for some small, niche news outlets,” Warren told the New York Times. “And placement of stories by mainstream media seemed to drive the daily agenda in ways that never were intended.”

Warren doesn’t plan on entirely scrapping the idea of the Early Bird. Instead he plans to trim the distribution list to 300 recipients and create what’s going to be called Morning News of Note, the New York Times reported. Warren told the Times that the effort will return the Early Bird to its original intent.

Service specific clipping services are also still being done. For example, the Navy is still sending out what’s called the CHINFO clips.

Warren told Foreign Policy and the Times that he’s already received considerable blow back from the decision to end the Early Bird. Those on Capitol Hill and across the military have called and email asking what happened to their morning email.

“This is the end of an era,” Warren told Situation Report. “And I will probably be the first inductee into the Public Affairs Hall of Infamy. There is a lot of anger out there.”

Editor’s Note: Those looking to replace the Early Bird can sign up for the Early Brief emailed newsletter that is sent out every morning by the Military​.com staff. Sign up here.

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Th Early Bird folks also published a more extensive list of newspaper and longer trade journal articles years ago. That went by the wayside. So, I guess it’s up to the media to put together their own version of the Early Bird. Just like went you have a single reporter/journalist feed all the outlets.

Did he come up with the “Morning News of Note” name? That’s awful.

After 65 years of it working, now they are going to defund it. Here’s my take on it…there has been alot of critical pieces of the administration and the military. There always has been. What has changed is the thinning of skin by the current administration and the senior leadership of the services. When the military was hollow after Vietnam the Early Bird still flew. This is about information control to the rank and file. Early Bird was the truth that any organisation needs to stay professional. How are we going to find out about the good and the bad in one spot. One last thought, there is no way that an O6 just made the decision to unplug this. No way, not the way things are going lately in our military.

@cannon_fodder — I’d say you are right about the thinning of skin, but it is not just the current administration. Rumsfeld killed the ebird supplement (which is what taxpayer was referring to) under Bush for the same reason — critical articles. I miss it, it was one of my homepage tabs at work! That being said, given budget cuts current fiscal environment I could see scouring the couch for any change … minor savings are still savings. Ultimately, I doubt fiscal considerations were the real driver. As Warren said in the original article — it tended to undermine OSD PA control by driving the news day.…

No news is good news, especially when you’re as amoral an organization as the US Department of Defense.

I remember downloading the Early Bird on a Sun system for the 2 star Admiral each morning. Dang, just seems like yesterday.

…you’d think an O-8 could get their own Early Bird.

They have someone download it for them. Think of the manpower savings!

I would shudder if they switch to using Twitter. No more social media coordinators, please.

Where do you expect everyone to get their new from, now? There won’t be any saving to rely on the private sector. What they might save by shutting it down, they will pay twice in IT security as newspaper website can be compromised from any country. The SEA, the Chinese, the Russian; they will all be very happy to send a special package when your IP address matches their target list.

Heck, there were a cyber attack last year where a private company taking care of filtering access to some defence related network got compromised. And don’t worry, at an undisclosed date, hacker have accessed all the infomation about the nuclear arsenal currently in inventory (1 to 6 years ago).

The newspaper will do so good at protecting themselves. :/

>at an undisclosed date, hacker have accessed .……

I might have connected two similar dots on that one so lets say that it may be hacking, a more classical form of spying or both. Either case it was attributed to the Chinese.

Anyway there are so many instance of cyber attack against defence network that I can’t even count them. like a data breach caused by an infected usb key in the middle east, or by fake hardware, etc.

Giving them yet another point of entry is a big no-no.

Check out fedsnap​.com. It will be a good place filler.

Well, whatever the reasons are this morning email with the latest military news will be missed by many.

If Early Bird readers now start work earlier, DoD’s productivity just went up…

I did. Nothing happened.

Early Bird is an idea that lived long after it should have expired. It should have been killed 5 years ago. With the essentially complete roll-out of NMCI, news is easily available at everyone’s desktop (or to a NMCI terminal near their desktop for those primarily on classified networks) without resorting to the early bird. Why are we wasting the press corps’ time assembling it?

Somebody wants news, they can easily hit the NYT, Washington Times, or other newspaper of their choice. Besides which, the earlybird (at least on the East coast) has not been so “early” in recent months.

Show me in NYT, Washiington Times, or any other major newpaper where Fast track TPP, which is up for vote in Congress, is being covered?

While working at OSD/PA before the use of PCs, I remembered helping photocopy the news clips, and then bringing it around to the senior leadership. Sad to see it go.

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