House subcommittee would block moving Stars and Stripes to Fort Meade
Published: April 25, 2012
In addition to high-profile stipulations about troop strength, a pay raise for the troops and new regulations to prevent and punish sexual assault, the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee will consider language in the 2013 Defense Authorization Bill that would prohibit moving the central office and newsroom of Stars and Stripes to the same location as the command-centered media operations of Defense Media Activity at Fort Meade, Md.
The direction that would block the proposed move is deep in the 190-page draft that will be considered Thursday by the subcommittee. The subcommittee released the draft today, which includes this language on page 113:
SEC. 582. [LOG ID 13270] PRESERVATION OF EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE OF STARS AND STRIPES.
To preserve the actual and perceived editorial and management independence of the Stars and Stripes newspaper, the Secretary of Defense shall extend the lease for the commercial office space in the District of Columbia currently occupied by the editorial and management operations of the Stars and Stripes newspaper until such time as the Secretary provides space and information technology and other support for such operations in a Government-owned facility in the National Capital Region geographically remote from facilities of the Defense Media Activity at Fort Meade, Maryland.
On page 17 is this rationale: “The committee believes it is critically important to preserving the editorial independence of "Stars and Stripes."
Along with Stripes’ Publisher’s Advisory Board and others, I’ve made that case in previous columns, here and here. Nothing against leaving DC proper. Nothing against locating Stripes on a military base or in other government-owned space. But Stripes’ independent newsroom shouldn’t be housed in the central production facility of command-centered and command-controlled print, web and TV operations.
Of course, putting language in the bill is a long way from making it law. The full House committee is expected to take up its six subcommittees’ reports and vote on the complete Defense Authorization bill next month. But final action by the House and Senate could very well wait after the November election. On the timetable laid out when it was announced by DMA, the move to Fort Meade is supposed to be complete by then.
Meanwhile, here's Stripes' reporter Chris Carroll's story today about the pay raise and other big issues in the subcommittee report.