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Stars and Stripes is an independent news source that operates from inside the United States Department of Defensemarker but is editorially separate from it. The First Amendment protection which Stars and Stripes enjoys is safeguarded by Congress to whom an independent ombudsman, who serves the readers' interests regularly reports. In addition to its website, Stars and Stripes reports on matters affecting military service members and publishes five daily newspaper editions for the United States Armed Forces serving overseas. The European, Mideast, Okinawa, Japan, and Korea editions are also available as free downloads in electronic format.



On 9 November 1861, during the Civil War, soldiers of the Illinoismarker 11th, 18th, and 29th Regiments, after forcing the Confederates south, set up camp in Bloomfieldmarker, Missourimarker. Upon finding the newspaper office empty, they decided to print a newspaper for their expedition, relating the troop's activities. They called it the Stars and Stripes. Today, the Stars & Stripes Museum/Library Association [8282] is in Bloomfield.

World War I

In World War I, the staff and roving reporters and illustrators of the newspaper were veterans of the newspaper world or, more frequently, talented young soldiers who would later become famous members of the United States media in the postwar era. Harold Ross, the editor of the Stars and Stripes, returned home to found The New Yorker magazine. Cyrus Baldridge, art director and principal illustrator, later became a major illustrator of books and magazines, as well as a writer, print maker and stage designer. Sports page editor Grantland Rice went on to a long career in journalism and founded a motion picture studio called Grantland Rice Sportlight. Drama critic Alexander Woollcott's essays for Stars and Stripes were collected in his book, The Command Is Forward (1919).

Stars and Stripes was then an eight-page weekly, which reached a peak of 526,000 readers, relying considerably on the improvisational efforts of its staff to get it printed in France and to distribute it to U.S. troops.

World War II

During World War II, the newspaper was printed in dozens of editions in several operating theaters. Again, both newspapermen in uniform and young soldiers, some of whom would later become important journalists, filled the staffs and showed zeal and talent in publishing and delivering the paper on time. Some of the editions were assembled and printed very close to the front in order to get the latest information to the most troops. Also, during the war, the newspaper published the 53-book series G.I. Stories.

After Bill Mauldin did his popular "Willie and Joe" cartoons for the WWII Stars and Stripes, he returned home for a successful career as an editorial cartoonist and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Former Stars and Stripes staffers also include 60 MinutesAndy Rooney and Steve Kroft, songwriter and author Shel Silverstein, comic book illustrator Tom Sutton, painter and cartoonist Paul Fontaine, author and television news correspondent Tony Zappone, cartoonist Vernon Grant (A Monster Is Loose in Tokyo), Hollywoodmarker photographer Phil Stern and the late stock market reporter and host of public television's Wall Street Week, Louis Rukeyser.

The newspaper has been published continuously in Europe since 1942 and in the Pacific since 1945.


Stars and Stripes is the only independent source of daily printed military news and information distributed at U.S. military installations in Europe and Mideast and East Asia. Stars and Stripes newspaper averages 40–48 pages each day and is published in tabloid format. The newspaper employs civilian reporters, and U.S. military senior non-commissioned officers as reporters, at a number of locations around the world and is read by over 350,000 people. Stars and Stripes also serves independent military news and information to an online audience of about 400,000 unique visitors per month, 60 to 70 percent of whom are located in the United States.

Stars and Stripes is a non-appropriated fund (NAF) organization, only partially subsidized by the Department of Defense. A large portion of its operating costs is earned through the sale of advertising and subscriptions. Unique among the many military publications, Stars and Stripes operates as a First Amendment newspaper and is part of the newly formed Defense Media Activity. The other entities encompassed by the Defense Media Activity (the Pentagon Channel and Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, for example), are command publications of the Department of Defense; only Stars and Stripes maintains complete editorial independence.

Stars and Stripes is in the process of digitizing its historic editions. Newspaper microfilm from 1943 to 1999 is being restored and rendered into searchable format by Heritage Microfilm and integrated into an archives website, slated to become available in early February 2009.


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