Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Naval Engagement: Hostilities Break out When Navy Starts a Paper; San Diego's Existing Military Papers Charge Unfair Restrictions and Dirty Tricks

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Naval Engagement: Hostilities Break out When Navy Starts a Paper; San Diego's Existing Military Papers Charge Unfair Restrictions and Dirty Tricks

Article excerpt

Publishers of three privately owned military newspapers serving San Diego's vast Navy community are hopping mad over what they call official restrictions on their distribution that work in favor of a new Navy newspaper.

Heating the conflict is an unusual alliance: The Navy's weekly, the Compass, is published in partnership with a general-interest daily, the Oceanside Blade-citizen, which takes revenue in exchange for selling advertising and providing printing, prepress and editorial services.

The three weekly papers insist they welcome competition from the Compass but complain that the nearly unlimited access they once had to San Diego's seven naval bases is being cut drastically.

One publisher, Richard Matz of the Military Press, vowed to go to court if the Navy doesn't change its position.

Sara Hagerty, owner and publisher of the 34-year-old Navy Dispatch, has sought help from her congressional representative.

Pat Cavanaugh, publisher of the Chula Vista Star-News, which publishes Homeport - the third "civilian enterprise" paper, according to Navy parlance - fumed in an interview: "The military is supposed to protect our freedom, but what are they protecting? Not our First Amendment rights. We're not at war. The bases should be open to us.

All three blame Capt. Mark Neuhart, Compass executive editor, for curtailing their distribution. Neuhart denied the charge, saying each base commander has had controlled distribution of outside newspapers since the Compass debuted in July.

Neuhart explained the Compass is an amalgamation of seven newspapers that formerly served individual bases, which together house 84,000 uniformed personnel. San Diego and Norfolk, Va., are the two largest Navy bases in the country.

Neuhart said each base will have "from four to 10 locations" for the civilian enterprise papers, depending on what each base commander decides.

"The commander has the right to screen any publication appearing on the base," he said.

Hagerty, whose father, a retired Navy public relations officer, started the Navy Dispatch in 1961, rejected Neuhart's account.

"Neuhart is putting pressure on public affairs officers to influence base commanders," she asserted.

She said Capt. M.K. Collins of the 32nd St. Naval Station told her the Dispatch would be limited to three drop sites on the base, a reduction from 20.

Matz said the Navy is cutting his distribution points - including racks, post exchanges, bowling alleys and credit unions - to 30, from 1,000. …

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