Paying for stories is a bad business

Apparently this idea still hasn’t gotten all around in the journalism world — but paying for stories is a bad business that doesn’t end well for anyone, except those who walk away with cash in hand.

If Gizmodo hadn’t paid for the lost 4G iPhone, it seems likely we wouldn’t be talking about the criminal investigation now underway. For the same reasons we don’t pay a witness to a crime for testimony, we can more easily trust news stories where no cash changes hands. In today’s world, it’s hard enough to trust journalism….paying for stories complicates things a lot.

Now, I will say this is a weird situation. I suspect some would say it’s analogous to Consumer Reports’ daily business — they purchase all the products they review, in order to remain objective. Yet in this case, with the product in question clearly NOT available on the market, I can’t figure out why Gawker would OK the payment [beyond the desire for the massive publicity it’s gotten….and perhaps that’s enough?]. Though it’s after the fact, it seems ethically similar to paying someone to steal the device, and I think we can all agree that that’s outside the bounds of propriety. Isn’t this just accessory after the fact?

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5 Responses to Paying for stories is a bad business

  1. Jennifer L April 29, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    By paying for stories, what exactly do you mean? I can’t see any writer worth his or her salt writing a story for a publication for free.

  2. Jennifer L April 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    By paying for stories, what exactly do you mean? I can’t see any writer worth his or her salt writing a story for a publication for free.

  3. Laura Creekmore April 29, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    Oh, so sorry to be unclear. I mean paying sources, not paying writers. I think all writers SHOULD be well paid.

  4. Laura Creekmore April 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Oh, so sorry to be unclear. I mean paying sources, not paying writers. I think all writers SHOULD be well paid.

  5. Ali August 6, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    thanks for this. some very valid points were made. i am a journalism student and am doing a presentation on why the media should/should not pay for stories. it is a tough one to answer!!!

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