Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Elizabeth A. Skewes
The practice of paying sources for information—known as checkbook journalism—is something that journalists in mainstream news media in the United States generally consider to be unethical. In fact, many news organizations, including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times , specifically forbid this practice in their ethics codes. On the other hand, many tabloid publications regularly pay for news. Mainstream media have derided the practice for decades. In 1962, Time magazine took the British press to task for its coverage of a case involving James Hanratty, accused of killing two people two decades earlier. In the Time story—which cited accounts from a variety of participants and witnesses, the magazine concludes: These gaudy journalistic outbursts had one thing in common: all of the stories were bought and paid for by Britain's popular press. Even Hanratty himself optioned his story to the Express —which was shrewdly holding off a while, ...