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Finding a Balance at 'Stars and Stripes'

A recent front page of the <I>Stars and Stripes</I>.
A recent front page of the Stars and Stripes.

The Stars and Stripes has been a staple of wartime since World War I, bringing soldiers news from home and the battlefront. The newspaper strives to provide an independent voice while under military control. Some readers and even some of its reporters have claimed the paper is too cozy with the military, while many in the top brass say it's too hostile. NPR's Bob Edwards reports.

During the Iraq war, Stars and Stripes has run the usual reports about missions accomplished and medals awarded. But it also has published stories on equipment that breaks down, policies that fail and soldiers fed up or frustrated with their mission.

Circulation is down from the 1991 Gulf War and the cost of distribution is higher. The paper is asking the Pentagon for a funding increase in hopes of tripling its circulation in Iraq to 50,000 copies.

Managing Editor Doug Clawson, who works at the paper's Washington headquarters, says Stars and Stripes is "extraordinarily independent.... We're not the military's newspaper. We're a newspaper that reports on the military for the military. And let's face it, there's a lot of people at the Pentagon that don't understand that, but that's what we do."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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