Spj Condemns Networks For "Checkbook Journalism"
The Society of Professional Journalists has employed strong language to rebuke news organizations who sidestep journalistic ethics rules against paying subjects for interviews. In a statement released at its Indianapolis headquarters, the SPJ said that it "condemns the growing trend of 'checkbook journalism' at major broadcast networks." It particularly focused on the revelation that ABC News paid the family of Casey Anthony, who has been charged with murdering her daughter Caylee, $200,000, for an interview. (ABC recently said that the money was paid for the use of photos and home videos but has acknowledged that the payment should have been disclosed.) However, SPJ Ethics Committee Chairman Andy Schotz said, "Paying someone while covering them breaches basic journalism ethics. ... ABC's failure to disclose this business relationship as part of its coverage the last two years made the breach worse." The SPJ Ethics Committee went on to say that it "is troubled by how widespread the practice of paying sources has become and the extravagant amounts of money changing hands." In conclusion, Schotz said, "News organizations that claim they're getting free interviews or access after giving sources thousands of dollars in cash or gifts are being disingenuous. ... It's time to end this unethical shell game."