Checkbook Journalism

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ABC News was accused and admitted to paying Casey Anthony, who is on trial for the murder of her daughter, $200,000 for exclusive rights to photos and home video for television broadcast while covering the trial. The Society of Professional Journalists calls this "checkbook journalism", and it is becoming popular among major broadcast networks.

According to the SPJ, "checkbook journalism" is unethical. Paying a source for any reason gives the public rights to doubt the credibility of the news outlet. Not to mention the fact, if sources believe money is involved, they could embellish and exaggerate the story in order to get paid a larger amount. It is also not fair to other news organizations to pay for exclusive interviews.

ABC News is not the only major news network to be accused of "checkbook journalism." Other culprits that have been called out by the SPJ include: CBS, CNN and NBC.

Why do these organizations do this? Surly, none of the major broadcast networks would take money from sources because it would create a conflict of interest, which is one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Journalism. So isn't paying a source doing the same thing, but in reverse?

4 comments:

Kate Simpson March 25, 2010 at 11:53 AM  

This reminds me of when celebrities Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had their kids, and were paid a huge amount of money to have a picture of their kids on the cover of a magazine. Luckily, they gave the money they earned from it to charity. Is this ethical? Paying celebrities to have them put a picture of their kids on a cover of a magazine?

Staci Mead March 29, 2010 at 1:14 PM  

This is sickening to me. The woman is accused of murdering her two year old child. I think that the facts in the trial should be allowed to speak for themselves rather than paying $200,000.00 for exclusive coverage that may or may not paint an accurate picture of what happened, especially if it comes from Anthony, who -in my opinion - has a bad habit of lying to begin with.

Leslie Hanson March 29, 2010 at 8:24 PM  

I can completely understand why paying sources for their story is unethical. Wheather a jury of Casey Anthony's peers will find her guilty or not really isn't the question. People believe she is guilty (I'm in that group of people). I am going to pick up that magazine or newpaper article that mentions "you heard it first here."
Jaycee Dugard's mother stated on 20/20 that they did acept money for the video of her. People want to see that, do I feel guilty that someone is paying her for her story, not at all.
Journalism is about getting the story and presenting it in a way that catches the audience's attention. We want to hear the comments someone who waited over a month to report her daighter missing, and we want to see the face of the little girl who went missing 18 years ago.

Kari.Ratkovich March 30, 2010 at 8:38 AM  

Checkbook journalism is everywhere. Media vehicles, not just TV are in a constant battle to be the first to give the breaking news story or the exclusive interview. By paying for a story, the story will with out a doubt be bias and not factual.
If ABC News decided mid trial that they were'nt getting the cutting edge story they thought they would or if it wasn't "juicy" enough for TV, would they stop paying for her trial? Just a thought...

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