Management and Censorship Issues of Stars and Stripes

T-NSIAD-89-4: Published: Feb 22, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 1989.

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GAO discussed the Department of Defense's (DOD) management of its Stars and Stripes newspapers. GAO found that: (1) DOD, in its attempt to provide the newspapers with protection against censorship and command influence, created an inherent conflict between civilian journalists' freedom-of-speech rights and commanders' responsibility to execute military policies; (2) there was conclusive evidence of military commanders' censorship and inappropriate news management in the Pacific newspaper; (3) a current DOD instruction exacerbated the conflict by emphasizing mission execution improvements rather than subjects of interest, prohibiting investigative reporting, and requiring each paper to have an advisory board with a command public affairs officer as chairman; (4) although DOD did not agree that the instruction was the cause of the conflict, it intended to begin a year-long review of its instruction that would reevaluate the dual mission and recommendation for a civilian chief editor; and (5) DOD needed to acknowledge and manage the inherent conflict, since it was not realistic to expect the publications to pursue one mission to the exclusion of the other.

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