ASNE Urges Congress, DOD, to Safeguard Independence of Stars and Stripes

Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper for the U.S. Armed Forces, was recently ordered by the Department of Defense to move from its offices in downtown Washington, D.C., to a military base 30 miles away that serves as the hub of official Pentagon and military media operations. The relocation has raised concerns about a threat to Stars and Stripes' special status as an independent news organization operating within DOD. In response to those concerns, ASNE issued a statement this morning urging Congress and the Pentagon to consider "alternatives that would ensure that Stars and Stripes can continue to independently provide uncensored news to American forces on the front lines and worldwide."

Here is the full text of the statement issued this morning by ASNE in response to concerns about the editorial independence of Stars and Stripes.

The Stars and Stripes newspaper has served the U.S. military community with distinction for decades. While partially subsidized by the Department of Defense, it is independent of military control and, by mandate of Congress, operates under First Amendment principles. That independence is now potentially endangered by a DOD order that it relocate from its present home in the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., to a military installation -- Fort Meade, in Maryland -- some 30 miles from the newsmakers it covers in the Pentagon, the administration and Congress.

Fort Meade is the DOD's largest center for production of command information. It houses, among other units, the American Forces Press Service, the Pentagon Channel and the American Forces Radio and Television Service. It also is home to the largest training center for military public affairs officers.

Co-locating the newspaper's headquarters staff with such a concentration of command information units could compromise its long-established independence. In fact, Stars and Stripes' U.S. newsroom was located in the National Press Building -- rather than a military installation -- in the late 1990s in response to attempts by officials to influence the newspaper's coverage.