Stars and Stripes fears move to Fort Meade will erode editorial independence

February 24, 2012
Category: Uncategorized

The Washington Post | Poynter
Stars and Stripes is moving from the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., to Fort Meade. The relocation to a godforsaken Maryland suburb, ordered by the Pentagon, “would place the newspaper in the same facility as one of the military’s main public-affairs operations,” Paul Farhi writes.

“It creates the perception of a lack of independence, that we are doing the bidding of the Pentagon, so to speak,” said Terry Leonard, Stars and Stripes’ top editor. “That’s a huge problem. . . . It’s a step-by-step process. How long will it take before we get absorbed into the great [public affairs] monstrosity that the DoD has?”

Craig Silverman called Mark Prendergast’s recent exit from the paper “one of the most acrimonious departures of an ombudsman in recent memory, if not of all time.” Prendergast’s fiery farewell column last month asserted the paper’s “standing as an independent source of news is threatened by a wrongheaded government response to the WikiLeaks disclosures that raises the specter of censorship.” (Interesting: Last week, Bill Keller opined that “the most palpable legacy of the WikiLeaks campaign for transparency is that the U.S. government is more secretive than ever.”) Prendergast also objected that the search committee replacing him lacked a representative from the Society of Professional Journalists.