The popular newspaper Marine Corps Times has been removed from its prominent position at checkout counter newsstands in base exchanges across the service, according to a report at Marine Corps Times.
The order to move Marine Corps Times from its usual position to areas away from checkout lines was given late last year, after a fiscal directive issued Oct. 22 specifically prohibited commands from using operations and maintenance money for purchasing Marine Corps Times subscriptions.
Distributors for the newspaper were given a variety of reasons as to the move, with at least one being told that the newspaper was not selling well. According to the Marine Corps Times Article, the Marine Corps Community Services and the Semper Fit and Exchange Services Division would not release sales data, even after multiple requests. The newspaper's sister publications Air Force Times and Army Times outsell their competitor publications at about 10-1.
Cindy Whitman Lacy, CEO and deputy director of business operations for the Marine Corps’ Semper Fit and Exchange Services Division suggested that Marine Corps Times is inconsistent with the Marine Corps "brand".
In addition, Lt. Gen. Robert Milstead, deputy commandant for Manpower & Reserve Affairs, released a statement saying, in part:
[Milstead] directed the Semper Fit and Exchange Services Division to determine how to professionalize the front areas of our stores...As a result, the store entry merchandising strategy was reviewed and new directives were issued on how and where publications are to be displayed.
According to the Marine Corps Times article:
The only step taken to “professionalize” the front area is to force all paid newspapers to the back of the store. Officials did not say how many, if any other newspapers were affected by the change. Most local and national newspapers are sold out of coin-operated vending machines. Other publications such as magazines will not be moved, officials said, due to contractual agreements already in place.
The wire racks and bins “are only authorized to display Marine Corps Exchange promotional materials,” according to the new policy. Exchange managers were told to move the newspapers to make room for the commandant’s reading list and that of the “First Lady of the Marine Corps,” Amos’ wife Bonnie.
The wire racks that once held Marine Corps Times still appear empty - almost 2 months after its forced relocation.
Marine Corps Times has written many articles over the past year investigating allegations into the Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, abusing his authority in punishing Marines that were involved in a war-zone scandal. Some of the stories have been picked up by major news outlets: CNN, NPR, and Time magazine, among others.
Edit: The decision to remove the Marine Corps Times from its prominent newsstand position has been reversed, due to a "clear misunderstanding of intent" behind the move.