Checkbook Journalism

Checkbook journalism is the label applied when journalists or their news organizations pay for information. Print and television tabloids freely admit they regularly offer cash in exchange for exclusive interviews or for news tips. However, most mainstream news organizations, along with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), condemn paying for interviews, arguing that it undermines journalistic credibility and independence. At the same time, these organizations sometimes pay for the right to use video or photos. They provide substantial consulting fees to former government officials, politicians, lawyers, or others who might provide expertise or commentary. They sometimes pay sources’ travel expenses or take sources to lunch or buy them coffee. These practices may be more widely accepted than direct cash payments for interviews, but some critics ...

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