SPJ condemns shuttering of Stars and Stripes
Patricia Gallagher Newberry, SPJ National President, 513-702-4065, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists strongly condemns the closing of Stars and Stripes, the editorially independent newspaper of the military, and calls for its funding to be restored.
“We are disgusted at this latest attempt by this administration to destroy the free press in this country,” said SPJ National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry. “Stars and Stripes has been a lifeline and the source of much needed information, inspiration and support for troops all over the world, including places where communication with the outside world is at a minimum or nonexistent. To destroy such an important American institution is a travesty.”
The Pentagon has ordered Stars and Stripes to come up with a shutdown plan by Sept. 15, cease publication by Sept. 30 and dissolve the organization by the end of January. The order comes after the Pentagon’s budget request included a proposal to cut the $15.5 million in federal funding that would go to Stars and Stripes.
Members of Congress have objected to the defunding move for months. A coalition of both Republican and Democratic senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper Wednesday urging him to reinstate funding. The senators argued that funding for the newspaper represented a tiny fraction of the department's annual budget and that cutting it could have a "significantly negative impact on military families."
When the news first broke in February, SPJ asked the Pentagon to reconsider cuts. When the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act without any language to support Stars and Stripes in June, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, offered an amendment to block the shutdown plans, but it was not adopted. SPJ once again stressed its opposition to the cuts and the important role Stars and Stripes plays in keeping members of the military connected while they are abroad.
“Stars and Stripes is an important communications tool for military troops deployed around the world, but especially in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where the circumstances are dangerous and the access to information is limited,” Newberry said in June.
With roots as far back as the Civil War, Stars and Stripes has published continuously since World War II, providing troops with reliable news and information free of command influence, operating under First Amendment principles.
SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.