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Europe, Pacific Stars and Stripes Face U.S. Consolidation

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 1996 – The European and Pacific editions of the Stars and Stripes newspapers will unite many common operations in a new U.S.-based office by Oct. 1, 1998.

 

Deputy Defense Secretary John White approved the consolidation Nov. 12. The plan stems from a two-year study by veteran newsman Joseph M. Ungaro Sr. for the American Forces Information Service. The Defense Department agency oversees policies governing the papers and has assumed business and financial control of them.

 

Military theater commands based in Germany and in Hawaii sponsor the newspapers and retain ownership, but do not control or censor their contents. The two, separate papers share the mission of serving members of the U.S. armed forces and their families overseas. Circulation is about 44,000 in Europe and 28,000 in the Pacific.

 

The papers have faced a number of challenges since 1989. Readership plunged when the U.S. military cut forces by two-thirds in Europe and by one-third in the Pacific. Both also lost control of bookstores that augmented their incomes when Congress ordered the stores transferred to the military exchange systems in October 1994.

 

The European edition of the Stars and Stripes is produced in Griesheim, Germany, and the Pacific edition, in Tokyo. The papers are then delivered to and sold in as many military communities as feasible. They also are distributed free to service members deployed on certain operations -- for instance, 10,000 copies were initially shipped daily to Operation Joint Endeavor troops in the Balkans.

 

Ungaro analyzed the news and business operations of both papers. He affirmed their quality-of-life value to military communities as a needed service — one not available through any other source. The newspapers serve small, far-flung audiences in a manner commercial papers would not attempt, he said.

 

The consolidation will reduce the total work force by about a third and establish a central office in the Washington, D.C., area. The U.S. staff will handle the papers' common business and editorial chores. Each paper will retain local reporting and printing staffs and complete control of theater-specific content. The U.S. office will send finished newspaper pages by satellite to Stars and Stripes presses in Griesheim and Tokyo and to contract printers in England, Italy, Okinawa and South Korea.

 

Planners believe consolidation will provide significant savings by reducing duplicated functions and will improve operations by centralizing business and production operations. Also, the new printing and distribution plan should increase reader appeal by cutting delivery times as much as 24 hours, they added.

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