Will Stars and Stripes lose its editorial independence if forced to relocate next to military PR operations?
An inside-the-office debate began to simmer when Pentagon officials — answering the order from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to find significant budget efficiencies — saw a way to cut $1 million a year in rent by relocating the newspaper from the National Press Building, a prestigious downtown address. The 80-member newsroom and business staff was ordered to Fort Meade, Md., where it would be housed at no cost alongside the agency that oversees official Pentagon and military media operations.
Staff members objected. And now, concerns that proximity could potentially lead to interference have reached Capitol Hill — which heightens the debate, since Stars and Stripes is subsidized with taxpayer funds but operates with a Congressional endorsement to maintain journalistic independence.