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thedrifter
04-11-09, 08:27 AM
MILITARY: Base newspapers suspend publication

By MARK WALKER - Staff Writer

Economic woes affecting newspapers in the civilian world have struck at Camp Pendleton, Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and San Diego naval facilities, where base papers have ceased publication.

At Camp Pendleton, The Scout newspaper that has published since the base was founded during World War II has laid off its three civilian workers and pushed all its military-produced stories and photographs to a Web site. Its last printed version was its April 2 edition.

The Flight Jacket newspaper at Miramar produced its last printed edition Friday. It was not immediately clear when the Navy's Compass produced its last printed edition.

A Marine Corps spokeswoman blamed the suspension on the recession.

"As a result of the current economic situation, the civilian publisher of The Scout is unable to fulfill its contractual obligations," Maj. Kristen A. Lasica-Khaner said in a written statement.

The Scout and the other papers were produced under a Navy contract with TFM Associates Inc., an Oceanside firm headed by Tom Missett.

Lasica-Kahner said TFM is getting a termination notice and, as a result, "publication and distribution of The Scout have therefore been suspended."

Calls Friday to TFM, which has been handling the advertising and printing for the papers, were picked up by a message machine and no one responded.

There is hope that all three printed products, which focus on events, entertainment and good news, could resurface.

"Camp Pendleton contracting has begun the reprocurement process," Lasica-Khaner said. "We regret any inconvenience this may cause and will resume weekly publication as soon as the economic situation permits."

A copy of her statement was posted on Scout distribution boxes Friday, referring readers of the broadsheet, multisection paper to the Web site. When it suspended publication, The Scout was printing 30,000 copies a week.

The paper also was available outside the gates of Camp Pendleton. Copies were dropped off each week at sites in Oceanside, including the 1st Marine Division Association, a nonprofit group for former members of the Pendleton-based unit.

The association's financial manager, Juan Duff, said Friday that he will miss the printed version and expects others will, too.

"We'll have to adjust to it," Duff said. "A lot of former Marines and sailors will definitely feel the sting because they're used to coming in here and picking it up."

The Scout's managing editor, Rich Miron, said he and two reporters who composed the civilian staff got word they were out of a job on Thursday.

"It's very depressing," he said. "All of us just loved working here with the Marines, but the handwriting that we were in trouble has been on the wall for several months so no one was shocked."

The paper has a long list of Thomas Jefferson awards to its credit, an award that is the highest honor any contracted military publication can receive from the Defense Department.

Miramar's Flight Jacket printed about 10,000 copies while the Compass press run was about 35,000.

The loss of military newspapers, at least for now, is another indicator of the problems facing papers of all stripes, said Bryce Nelson, a journalism professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communications.

Steep declines in circulation and advertising along with competition from Internet sites have pushed daily and weekly newspapers across the country to cut staff, reduce the size of their editions and, in some cases, such as in Seattle and Denver, cease publication.

"It's too bad, but it's happening throughout the newspaper industry, and not only at commercial papers, but also at university newspapers," Nelson said. "It is a time of cutback."

The North County Times is talking with Marine Corps officials about taking over the advertising and printing for The Scout, Publisher Pete York said Friday.

The Scout's online edition is available at www.cpp.usmc.mil or www.cpp.usmc.mil/scoutNewspaper.asp

Flight Jacket is available at www.miramar.usmcmil/fj.asp.

Compass can be read at www.navycompass.com.

Contact staff writer Mark Walker at (760) 740-3529 or mlwalker@nctimes.com.

Ellie