Monday, November 17, 2008

Ban of Patriotism

An email I received recently stated that "ABC NEWS issued orders forbidding reporters to wear lapel pin American flags or other patriotic insignia."Both and have verified this statement. When I first heard this statement, I was disappointed, a little shocked. I understand that journalists must remain objective, but since when is patriotism, pride in one's country, considered a bias??

At first I thought nothing of the email. But soon I became curious, on a mission to find out whether this ban of patriotism was really necessary. I spoke with several reporters on the issue.

One reporter, Alex Shabad, of Evansville, Indiana's NBC affiliate WFIE-TV, also agreed that patriotic insignia interferes with objectivity. "It's hard to criticize our country when you wear an American flag pin. If a reporter is covering a bad story on the government, and wearing an American flag pin, it raises questions." Shabad also made a valid point about international journalists. "International reporters wearing the American flag pin are not objective. They are working in another country and should not display their patrioitsm for the US."

Chicago's NBC 5-WMAQ-TV's anchor and reporter Anna Davlantes said she understands the reasoning behind the ban, and refrains from displaying her views on air. "After the 9/11 attacks, we all wanted to wear American flag pins. The news director here told us that we couldn't. The display of patriotism contrasts our goal as reporters: being objective at all times."

Dominican University's Lund-Gill Chair Stephen Kinzer supported the reporters' views on journalists displaying their patriotism but spoke about a deeper meaning of patriotism. "Patriotism is a high virtue. It is love for one's country through hard work and sacrifice. Patriotism is giving back to the country that's given us so much."

Kinzer made the point that many Americans display their patriotism as an excuse, an alternative.A way out. "Don't tell me you're a patriot. Show me. Show me you're a patriot in a more profound way (other than wearing an American flag," he said. "Displaying one's patriotism is easy symbolism as an excuse for substance. We're moving into an era where people become suspiciousif you're proving to be patriotic."

After writing this post, I walked from the Tech Center to the Cyber Cafe, hoping to snap a photo of something patriotic. I was disappointed to find nothing. No American flags, no stars and stripes. No Uncle Sam. Nothing. Dominican University does have an American Flag that is flown in the Quad. But there's another story here:

According to the United States Code, compiled by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives, the flag is not to be displayed at night. The US Code states: "It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness." In this video, you will see Dominican's flag display violating two rules from the US Code.

While DU is not supported by government funding, as this is a private university, shouldn't patriotism be displayed? AND when displayed, shouldn't it follow the US Code's laws regarding proper flag etiquette?

As a private insitution there are numerous religious figures displayed throughout campus. I enjoy the fact that I can see them while walking DU's hallways. As an American, and a journalist who is limited from diplaying personal beliefs and supports, I would enjoy seeing my university display their patriotism. There are numerous countries around the world that do not afford their people educational opportunities as the United States of America does. We should be proud and fortunate to be Americans, living here, studying here, and should embrace and encourage patriotism at Dominican.


  1. And FYI: notice, too, that because a bottom edge of the flag has somehow become snagged on either the pole itself or a piece that holds the flag, one or two of the bottom stripes have slowly began ripping away from the flag. It looks like the flag is held up by three rings, and the bottom ring also does not have the flag attached, probably because the edge got snagged.
    I'm guessing this also has something to do with flag etiquette, and on another note I'm sure the flag has been in that condition for a couple of weeks now. I'm not big on showing patriotism or flag etiquette or anything, but I've been wondering for a while if anyone else has noticed this.

  2. (minor correction, it looks like its a top edge of the flag that's snagged, as well as another part - take a look when the wind blows :) )

  3. Are you sure that Dominican does not receive ANY federal aid?

  4. Very interesting story, GREAT little video, too. Swell job!

  5. We live in a global society in which objectivity means standing outside of country and reporting from a global standpoint.