KOMU-TV Columbia, Mo.'s "no pins, no flags" policy has drawn criticism from
legislators and even endangered its university funding in the post-Sept. 11
environment. But the University of Missouri-owned station's adherence to that
policy, despite the pressure, also brought it the "Ancil Payne Award for Ethics"
from the University of Oregon School of Journalism.
"We were not passing judgment one way or another on the policy," journalism school dean and Prof. Tim Gleason said. "I suspect that members of the
committee may have different views [on wearing flags or patriotic pins]. Our
concern has to do with the integrity and the autonomy of the newsroom. We think
the news director and staff have demonstrated that integrity."
In fact Republican state legislators who had criticized Woelfel's decision to
ban the patriotic symbols in the newsroom have endangered overall university
funding. The state's two houses will have to decide whether to affirm or restore
proposed cuts over the next few weeks.
Neither Woelfel nor Gleason felt that the policy stifles free speech. "The
demonstration of personal opinion through a symbol," Woelfel said, "is something
you voluntarily give up when you enter this profession, although not everyone