The US military has read the stars and stripes since the Civil War. Now her future is uncertain


Whatever the reason for the last-minute shutdown, Ernie Gates, Ombudsman for the Stars and Stripes, is cautiously optimistic.

“I think Congress has yet to act on the budget. And I think it will happen after the election. No sooner, ”he said.

After the president’s Tweet, the Pentagon announced it would issue a new memo – a memo that rescinds the memo calling for the newspaper to be shut down. But that doesn’t mean the newspaper’s future is secure. He has also been on the chopping block in previous administrations.

Gates believes the unfriendly relationship between the Trump administration and the media has made it easier for the Pentagon to try to shut down the independent editorial newspaper this year.

“I think they were emboldened enough to say this is our chance to get rid of it. Let’s take it, ”he said.

Gates and others point out that the newspaper’s budget is tiny compared to overall defense spending – $ 15.5 million out of a budget of around $ 740 billion. That said, Esper had argued that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The newspaper is managed by the Pentagon Defense Media Activity, which is overseen by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

Stars and Stripes editor Max Lederer thinks this reprieve is a good time to focus on the future of Stripe.

“How should it be funded? Lederer asked.

And more importantly, he said, now is the time to discuss who in the Pentagon should actually oversee the newspaper’s operations.

“Should it be the public affairs community – like today – or should it really be part of the corporate and moral entity of DOD?” ”

Moving the newspaper to another Pentagon office could be a way to defuse the inherent tension between the independent news agency and its operational director, who controls Defense messages and often has to answer tough questions from Stars and Stripes journalists. .

For readers, many see the newspaper as a benefit to service members and their families.

While the internet has made information on all subjects more readily available to military personnel, what has not changed is that Stars and Stripes focus on stories that specifically affect service members and their families. This is what Chelsa Brilla, military wife for 15 years, appreciates in the newspaper.

“I really liked that it delved into the things that made my life different from other people,” Brilla said.

It could be from small things like different PT schedules for her husband to big things like changes to TriCare, military medicare, or the temporary deferral of payroll taxes. The mainstream media might mention this type of information in passing, but Brilla said she knows Stars and Stripes will be following them closely and thoroughly.

As Lederer said, the document is all about telling the military and their families “what’s going on on their left flank, their right flank and behind them.”

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a collaboration with public media that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


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