Checkbook journalism rings up big bucks for politicos

Everybody knew the networks were practicing checkbook journalism, but who knew the checks were so big?

Paul Sperry, writing in today’s Investor’s Business Daily, reports that Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson was paid nearly half a million dollars by Fox News until he announced his candidacy.

Mike Huckabee’s payola was clearly labeled, but worth $500,000 a year? Fox also paid Rick Santorum $100,000 and John Kasich hauled in $265,000 a year, while doling out $1 million for a three-year deal with Sarah Palin.

The liberals at CNN do it too, contracting with Obama adviser David Axelrod to work as a commentator.

Who knows what made NBC think Chelsea Clinton was worth $600,000. Why that’s as much as three speeches from either of her parents.

The Society of Professional Journalists calls such checkbook “journalism” unethical for many good reasons — the foremost is that money corrupts and paying for information or sources corrupts journalism.

The SPJ Code of Ethic admonishes: “Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.”

The SPJ warns about getting into bidding wars, which, as a former editor with a strict budget, I can appreciate, even if the networks do not.

Here are a few other SPJ reasons why checkbook journalism is vile:

First, paying for information immediately calls into question the credibility of the information. …

Creating a market for information that sells also raises the possibility that entrepreneurs looking to make money will create their own news, staging or inventing stories to attract the big checks.

Second, paying for information creates a conflict of interest. By writing a check for an interview, the journalist now has a business relationship with the source. Asking tough questions, examining the motives, weighing the credibility of a source — all of these journalistic functions become intricately more complicated when the source is someone receiving money for a story.

And third, once a media outlet has paid for information, it is less likely to continue to search for the details of the story for fear it might uncover conflicting information.

A source who chooses to tell a story and tell it exclusively should want to choose the reporter who has the clearest record of demonstrated competence rather than the one waving the largest check.

While it is true that journalism is a capitalistic endeavor and money must be made, being first and being exclusive should never be the primary motive of journalists. The primary motive always should be an accurate report.

There is a market for credibility. Once you’ve sold that, you’ve entered the world’s oldest profession.




32 comments on “Checkbook journalism rings up big bucks for politicos

  1. A.D. Hopkins says:

    This bears repeating.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There is no media anymore!

  3. Bruce Feher says:

    Media? What media? Just bought and paid for “news” to take up time and/or space between ads and commercials.

  4. Rincon says:

    Call them campaign contributions. Another form of free speech.

  5. iShrug says:

    They should just call it opinion.

  6. nyp says:

    Today’s Fun Fact: this is the 142nd school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre.

  7. Steve says:

    The former president of an Oregon community college where a gunman opened fire, killing at least seven people, says the school has only one security officer on duty at a time, and that person isn’t armed.

    Disarming the (one person) campus security, good move.

  8. nyp says:

    No need. it is an “open carry” campus.
    The real problem is that the students and the professors weren’t all packing heat.
    Yeah. That’s it.

  9. Steve says:

    No it isn’t. There are no open carry campuses in the Oregon state university system.
    Oregon law now forces schools to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry concealed on campus. But like many other college campus’s it is otherwise a victim disarmament zone.

  10. nyp says:

    Wrong. A patriotic Oregon state court prohibited public colleges in Oregon from banning guns on campus.

    A effort to overturn the decision was defeated in the Oregon legislature, thanks to the tireless efforts of supporters of Second Amendment freedoms.

    It is a shame that the dead college students did not take advantage of this precious freedom by bringing fully loaded handguns to their science lab and their calculus classes.

  11. Steve says:

    Applies exclusively to CHL holders. Excludes them from relevant Oregon law. Does not make campuses “open carry” as you claimed.

  12. And again, before any of the pertinent facts of what actually happened are fully known…our Community Organizer in Chief uses this as another opportunity to rush in and demagogue and politicize this tragic event. We don’t need another lecture from this jacka$$…just once, some genuine sympathy and leadership would be in order and a welcome surprise…

  13. nyp says:

    Yes, how dare the President make a political issue out of the fact that we have had 294 mass shootings in the 274 days of 2015. The gall! He should be calling for more guns, not fewer!

    I’m sure your children and grandchildren will never be a movie theatre or classroom or supermarket when a fellow citizen takes advantage of his Second Amendment liberties.

  14. nyp says:

    This is the 41st school shooting this year.

  15. Steve says:

    Brien, we could round over every 90 degree corner, cushion every hard surface require every person be in an unbreakable bubble when ever any possible danger might be anywhere in the area and they would still find things they believe everyone needs to do to make them feel better about themselves.
    Today’s liberal will never be satisfied.
    They simply fail to realize there will always be things out of their control.

    Let nyp vent, it makes him feel good about himself after spending the day screwing over poor people every time he closes a deal in the office.

  16. nyp says:

    ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

    ISLA VISTA, CA—In the days following a violent rampage in southern California in which a lone attacker killed seven individuals, including himself, and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said North Carolina resident Samuel Wipper, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

  17. Steve says:

    “The Onion”

    good place to form valid political opinion

    though quite funny

  18. nyp says:

    There have been 142 school shootings since Newtown.

  19. Steve says:

    Yes, isn’t it something. Making it very public information that victim disarmament zones are easily found at schools and you get a huge number of school shootings.

    On the other hand a bunch of attempted car jackers get shot while trying to steal the cars and we have a huge drop in car jacking.

    Advertising works.

  20. Nyp says:

    If only those Second Graders at Sandy Hook had been armed, that tragedy could have been avoided

  21. Steve says:

    Keep advertising.

    It’s working.

  22. Rincon says:

    Everybody’s focusing on the wrong issue. The number of mass murders in the:
    1900’s – 0
    1910’s – 2
    1920’s – 2
    1930’s – 9
    1940’s – 8
    1950’s – 1
    1960’s – 6
    1970’s – 13
    1980’s – 32
    1990’s – 42
    2000’s – 28
    2010’s (3 years only) – 14

    Guns were more available early in the 20th century than today, so too many guns cannot be the greatest cause of the increase. Nevertheless, “Brien, we could round over every 90 degree corner, cushion every hard surface require every person be in an unbreakable bubble when ever any possible danger might be anywhere in the area and they would still find things they believe everyone needs to do to make them feel better about themselves.
    Today’s liberal will never be satisfied.”

    Apparently, today’s Conservative is. You don’t see a problem with those numbers Steve? Why in the world should ANYBODY be satisfied with this trend?

  23. Steve says:

    Advertising, Rincon, has been eminently successful.
    The desired result is just around the corner.

  24. Steve says:

    And I see you are drawing a false conclusion from my post.

    Just because I say today’s Liberal will never be satisfied in no ways implies anything about Conservatives.

  25. Since 1980 there have been 567 deaths from mass shootings in America. That’s an average of under twenty deaths per year. (far too many!) Every year…more than 200 Americans die in accidents involving white tail deer vehicle collisions…3,500 die annually from drowning…400 die in Chicago homicides yearly…and so on and so forth. So please put your head under the sink faucet and put out the fire…

  26. Another fun fact for the little nyper…Record 94,610,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Lowest in 38 Years.

  27. Steve says:

    nyp’s busy today. Evaporating jobs last month in the revised report showed huge drop in Aug and Sept was worse.
    He’s got to screw over a bunch of poor people to get those portfolios realigned for the coming nastiness.

    It’s been noticeable on Monster too. I check that one almost daily.


  28. Steve says:

    Big drop in orders for factory goods in Aug, going into holiday season, is not good.

    Reality is a bitch.

  29. nyp says:

    1. You know nothing about what I do for a living.
    2. The September report was indeed somewhat disappointing.

  30. Rincon says:

    Your point is well taken, Brien. Although the trend is alarming, the absolute numbers remain small, much as with terrorism.

    “Another fun fact for the little nyper…Record 94,610,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Lowest in 38 Years.” We’ve been over this one. Since people who retire are not in the labor force and the Baby Boomers are retiring in very large numbers, this is to be expected. The proper statistics would reflect how many people want to work and cannot find a job and perhaps how many of those responding who say they don’t want to work are on welfare. Also relevant is how many people work fewer hours than they desire and how many have multiple part time jobs. Of course, the recession for the middle class has been 47 years long. Worrying about these most recent figures is like worrying about a week without rain in a 6 month drought.

  31. Douglas County Oregon Sheriff John Hanlin said Thursday: “I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act. You will never hear me mention his name. We would encourage media to avoid using it, to not repeat it. We encourage you not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this. Focus your attention on the victims, on the families, helping them get through this difficult time.”

  32. And in the spirit of Sheriff John Hamlin’s request…the story of Chris Mintz, US Army veteran who was shot numerous times after charging the shooter and while trying to block the shooter’s access to other students…a man who ran towards danger rather than away from it:

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