Station stirs GOP fury over flags

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KOMU-TV, the state-owned TV station in Columbia, Mo., received threats regarding funding from Republican legislators following news director Stacey Woelfel's decision to keep pins, ribbons and flags off his on-air staff.

Woelfel believes the patriotic displays inevitably become politicized, and that the news department follows the same policy toward displays regarding campaigns against diseases or other social statements. KOMU-TV is actually a commercial, self-supporting station, but it's affiliated with the University of Missouri's well-known and well-regarded journalism school - and a few legislators say they'll be looking at the J-school's funds.

"As a member of the state legislature in Missouri, I am going to be evaluating far more carefully state funding that goes to the School of Journalism. If this is what you are teaching the next generation of journalists, I question whether the taxpayers of this state will support it," Rep. Matt Bartle wrote. Bartle also wrote the university's governmental relations department, in hopes of administration involvement.

Rep. Bubs Hohulin told Woelfel that the Government Affairs office does "not control your 'academic freedom', but with no money, you could be a little less free."

So far, there has been no interference with Woelfel's policy. - Dan Triglboff

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