Saturday, April 26, 2008

Are payments to Interviewees unethical or required?

One of the tenets of journalism is that journalists should not pay interviewees for news information. It is regarded as unethical "check-book" journalism to pay news sources. Yet, often the news gathering organization makes considerable money from its news gathering, while the news sources are poor, or even dying. In Africa, for example, should a journalist who interviews someone who is dying of malnutrition or disease, refuse to pay for food or medicine?

There is no easy solution, as no one wants money to influence the story. However, we probably need clearer and more sensitive rules, as no one should put life above news gathering.

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