TV stations divided on anchors wearing ribbons
© St. Petersburg Times,
To wear ribbons or not?
For WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Bob Hite, a former Marine, there was no question he would wear his tiny American flag pin when he returned to the air Monday. He wasn't on the air immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because he was stranded at his Colorado ranch.
"I'm an American first, a husband and a father, then a newsman," Hite said.
Still, there's a difference of opinion among journalists on whether news anchors should be wearing red, white and blue ribbons or lapel pins.
Anchors at WTVT-Ch. 13 wore ribbons during Friday's newscasts for the national day of rememberance. At WFTS-Ch. 28, anchors Monday and Tuesday wore ribbons that were prepared by another employee and made available to any on-air staffer who wanted to wear one.
The ribbons also have appeared on national correspondents, including Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert.
"We are citizens of the U.S., and I encourage our people to show support for the Americans who died," WFTS news director Bill Berra said. "I can't imagine anyone would criticize that."
At WFLA, news director Forrest Carr issued a memo to staffers Monday that said "patriotic ribbons are not appropriate" for journalists who may be called upon to question the actions of the government (lapel pins like Hite's are an exception, Carr said).
"We were all torn about this decision . . . who wouldn't be?" said Carr, adding that he consulted journalism ethics experts at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which owns the St. Petersburg Times. "But then somebody said, "You never saw Edward R. Murrow wearing a ribbon (during World War II).' That decided it for me."
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