Stars & Stripes Ombudsman's Dispute, DOD Comments

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The Department of Defense commented on the Stars and Stripes controversy. (Credit: Dept. of Defense)

iMediaEthics reported the Department of Defense “authorized” daily newspaper Stars and Stripes’s ombudsman’s “dispute” and resolution with the newspaper over editorial independence earlier this month.  The controversy stemmed from the ombudsman’s column critical of a memo barring the newspaper’s journalists from viewing WikiLeaks — a memo that was later rescinded.

iMediaEthics wrote to the Department of Defense asking about the memo and where it originated.  A spokesperson for the department claimed that the memo wasn’t created to keep the journalists from effectively reporting, but instead to keep classified information off Stars and Stripes computers, which are labeled unclassified.

According to the spokesperson, the memo was retracted because it was “too restrictive” and new advice from the Department of Defense is forthcoming in 2011.

The department’s spokesperson explained that it is costly to remove classified information from unclassified computers.  “It is a difficult and expensive process to purge classified information from unclassified computers.  This is an expense DoD wants to avoid.”

We’ve responded to the Department of Defense asking again who wrote the memo. We’ll update with any response.

See iMediaEthics’ other posts on the Stars and Stripes controvery here.

Editor and Publisher noted that Stars and Stripes ombudsman Mark Prendergast published Jan. 5 a column titled “An affirmation of independence.”  In it, Prendergast detailed the conflict over his “Now comes don’t read, don’t tell” column.

Prendergast published the “joint statement on Ombudsman position” agreed to by publisher Max Lederer Jr., and Prendergast.  Prendergast also stated that he didn’t view the issue as “censorship, only an unwarranted editorial intrustion into the independent ombudsman’s space, which I trust will not occur again.”  Read Prendergast’s column here.


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Stars & Stripes Ombudsman’s Dispute, DOD Comments

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