Press Release Headlines

Former Publisher Makes Bid To Reclaim Famous Stars And Stripes Newspaper From Bankruptcy

PALM SPRINGS, CA — April 22, 2002 — In a speech before a gathering of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veterans, Board Chairman Howard E. Haugerud said the National Tribune Corporation had made a bid to reclaim the veterans and military Stars and Stripes newspaper from bankruptcy. He called on the court appointed Trustee, to look beyond the simple dollar bids and to make his first priority the continued existence of the historic and only independent veteran's national newspaper.

Haugerud is majority stockholder in the corporation and a former high level official in the State Department and Defense Department during the administrations of presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. A military pilot and unit commander, he served as the paper's publisher and editor-in-chief for nine years prior to selling the publication, debt free, to a group of young veteran-businessmen less than two years ago. Backed by a Silicon Valley venture firm, the new owners determined the paper's future lay in having a large Internet presence. As a result they borrowed heavily and spent with alacrity. Today the firm, Stars and Stripes Omnimedia reposes in bankruptcy in the Western District of Pennsylvania listing debts of some $2.6 million.

The former publisher says the bankruptcy was unnecessary. Among the other bidders who wished to buy the newspaper while it was still operating was respected Ogden Inc. who owns some 30 daily and weeklies across the United States. Ogden was prepared to keep the staff in place, pay $400,000 for the trademark and pledge to continue the Stars and Stripes task of serving the more than 24 million-member veterans' community.

At that point an official representing the Department of Defense thought he saw an opportunity to shut down the fiercely independent paper, often a thorn in the sides of Pentagon brass, and topped Ogden's bid by $600,000. Not wishing to get in a bidding war against an official using bottomless taxpayer funds, the West Virginia based firm dropped out of the contest.

Haugerud protested the Pentagon's move and appealed to members of the House and Senate. The Wall Street Journal weighed in with a story critical of DOD's maneuver and quoted noted First Amendment Lawyer, Floyd Abrams: "If the purpose is to avoid confusion, there must be some other way to do that other than stifling the speech of an entity that exists in good part to cover the Pentagon."

After that the DOD official, a holdover from the Clinton administration who had received a letter of reprimand from the Secretary of Defense for demonstrating "poor judgment" in an unrelated matter, backed off. Shortly thereafter he accepted employment outside the government.

"Unfortunately," Haugerud said, "the damage had been done. The paper ceased publishing without a word of warning or explanation to its faithful readers, many of whom had subscribed for more than 50 years. That type of inexcusable action is devastating to a newspaper and badly tarnishes any brand name including that of the universally recognized Stars and Stripes."

During the 1920s, the newspaper first printed by Civil War soldiers, continued its support of the Spanish American War veterans, added the causes of World War I vets, ferreted out corruption in the Pension Bureau and criticized the pathetically under funded and ill administered former servicemen's benefit programs. In the early 1930s, The Stars and Stripes was the only newspaper in Washington to support the veterans while they petitioned the Congress for payment of the long promised World War I bonus.

Since that time the newspaper has acted as ombudsman for thousands of former service men and women who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm as well as those who served in the uniformed peace time military.


Howard Haugerud
Tel: 760-340-3452

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