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'Stars and Stripes' Editors Ask Publisher To Resign Over Financial Disclosure Dispute.

A group of editors at Stars and Stripes have asked their acting publisher to resign, protesting his refusal to release information about the paper's links to a military publicity program.

And the paper is apparently not shy about reporting the internal turmoil, publishing a story on the protest on Wednesday. It ran on the home page of the Web site and on Page 8 in print.

"Midlevel editors at Stars and Stripes have called on the newspaper's acting publisher to resign, saying he has refused to release information on the extent of the paper's relationship with America Supports You," the story began. "Tom Skeen, assistant managing editor, Pacific; Sam Amrhein, Europe bureau chief; Joe Giordono, Mideast bureau chief; Marni McEntee, assistant Europe bureau chief; Tim Flack, Korea bureau chief; and Chris Carlson, Japan bureau chief signed the e-mail, sent Tuesday."

The dispute stems from the paper's financing of America Supports You, described as a "Defense Department program that gives publicity to nonprofit groups that support U.S. troops." Stars and Stripes reports that the Defense Department Inspector General's Office is investigating the newspaper's financial support for the program.

"A source at Stripes explained that the paper served as a conduit for money that went toward America Supports You, but Stripes did not spend any of its own money," the paper reported. "Stripes has learned that the paper has issued a $499,000 purchase agreement for the public relations firm Susan Davis International to promote America Supports You; and it awarded a $311,650 contract for Semel Media to develop and design Web sites for America Supports You and the Defense Department's Web site."

The story adds that "both the Defense Department and the business side at Stripes have refused to release information on exactly how much money was channeled through the newspaper for America Supports You."

The protest letter to Publisher Max Lederer, sent via e-mail, accused him and others at the paper of "stonewalling attempts to find the truth" by not responding to requests for information on how money was moved through Stripes for America Supports You, the paper reported.

"What message is Stripes' leadership trying to send to the public by ignoring these requests and failing to turn over the documents?" the e-mail stated.

Managing Editor Doug Clawson reportedly agreed with the need to disclose involvement between Stripes and DOD with his own e-mail, stating, "This needs to happen immediately. We've asked for this repeatedly. Until we see everything, it's tough to know what to do next."

Publisher Lederer issued the following statement, according to the paper:

"I was appointed the acting Publisher on 1 Oct 2007 after 15 years with Stars and Stripes serving the military community. I believe strongly in the value and need for Stars and Stripes and intend to continue to perform my duties and focus on the mission of Stars and Stripes by providing service members timely and quality independent news and information."

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Title Annotation:Stars and Stripes Omnimedia Inc.
Author:Strupp, Joe
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Nov 14, 2007
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