With Independence Day on Saturday and Luke Air Force Base being such an important part of the Valley’s fabric, we thought it would be appropriate to display our own Stars and Stripes in today’s Media Monday.
Stars and Stripes provides independent news and information to the U.S. military community, comprised of active-duty service members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and their families. The newspaper has been published continuously since World War II, with daily readership through its various channels near 600,000.
Terry Leonard serves as editor of Stars and Stripes, considered to be the “hometown newspaper” for service members, government civilians and their families stationed overseas. It seems like a daunting task.
Terry, time to share:
I’ve been a journalist for 38 years and during that time I have had the privilege to travel the world and be an eyewitness to some of the more historic events of my era. My career began as a city hall reporter at a small newspaper in Texas that no longer exists. I spent 28 years with the Associated Press, the vast majority of that as a foreign correspondent. I joined Stripes in December 2007 as the editor, managing the news operation worldwide and setting the philosophy for all print editions and digital platforms.
Stripes is a unique organization, an editorially independent newspaper owned by the Department of Defense. The independence of the newspaper is guaranteed by Congress, protected by an ombudsman who reports only to Congress and by the editors and the staff who zealously defend that independence with aggressive reporting. During my brief tenure, our staff has won, among numerous other awards, a George Polk Award, a first place National Headliner Award and several awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Over my long career I have known a lot of brilliant and accomplished journalists, some among the most famous in our profession. Men and women who were very, very good at what they did. But before I came to Stripes, I had never worked with a news team so dedicated to their readers. The staff at Stripes appears motivated by a common belief that our military men and women deserve a source of independent, non-command sponsored news and information that allows them to participate in the democratic system they protect.
Prior to taking over at Stripes, I had not spent a lot of time with the U.S. military. I was a soldier form 1967 to 1970, but spent my time as a medic with the 10th Special Forces Group and was always stationed in the States. I didn’t spend any significant time with the military again until I covered the mission to Somalia. But my two decades abroad with the AP was still a good preparation. While I had only occasional contact with the U.S. military, I did work, often very closely, with the militaries of at least 28 other countries on three continents.
During my career I have traveled to more than 75 countries, more than 60 of those for the AP. The stories I helped to cover ranged from wars, revolutions and superpower summits to the Vatican and the Pope, Olympic Games and World Cup Soccer tournaments. I was among the first group of Western journalists allowed into Baghdad ahead of the first war with Iraq. I also covered the famine and subsequent American military efforts in Somalia, the siege of Sarajevo and the first two years of the war in Bosnia, the genocide in Rwanda and the revolution in Romania. My last assignment was as the AP bureau chief in South Africa.
Prior to working overseas, I had been a supervising editor on the agency’s international desk in New York and worked a brief stint at the United Nations headquarters. Before that, I had been a supervisory editor in the AP’s bureau in Dallas.