Through lots of research I have found that checkbook journalism is misunderstood and wrongly persecuted by many journalistic groups. These attacks on checkbook journalism are one of the reasons that it is so wrongly viewed. In fact many news stations and journal outlets use checkbook journalism to obtain information. Even though many news stations and media use checkbook journalism it is still looked down upon. But checkbook journalism is actually a good way to obtain reliable information that wouldn’t have been found any other way.
When you pay a source money for information, it doesn’t compromise that source. In other words, paying a source money is a lot like buying a book or a newspaper. Just because you buy it and it has information, doesn’t mean the information you’re reading is bad or inaccurate, it is just information that you had to pay for. There will always be bad sources of information in the journalistic and news outlets searches for information and truth. Sometimes when journalists are searching for information and are talking to a source, the source wants or needs to trade information for money.
Reasons for this include financial problems and need the money to pay off a serious debt, or to support a family. If you had a family to feed but couldn’t because you had no money would you sell information to feed them, especially if the information could help to expose and help stop evils that are occurring in the community or nation? Many of the ethical problems that occur in the world are caused by corrupt governments or corporations. Most, if not all, of these problems would not and will not come to light without checkbook journalism.
For example a famous journalist, “Hersh made waves in the late 1960s, when he achieved fame for uncovering one of the worst atrocities of the Vietnam War, the My Lai massacre”, this story was a checkbook story (Sherman). Some sources however are not willing to share with out a little compensation. This compensation does not have to be money as is stated by the article on the web site wiseGEEK (McMahon) the compensation for information could be favors or protection from terrorist and governments. Checkbook journalism is not a new practice it has been around for a long time and is going to be around for even longer.
The practice of checkbook journalism has been improving through time. Reporters and journalists, paying a source does not compromise that source. Many journalists organizations believe that by paying someone it makes the information that you are receiving less reliable; however, the information is probably more reliable than if you were just hearing it from some random shop owner on the street. Paying a source creates a business relationship and can make it so your source can find more information and increase knowledge and awareness of the situation.
We deserve to know what politicians and some companies are doing behind the scenes. We need to be able to trust our government, but sometimes we can’t and we want to know and deserve to know how our money is being spent(PBS). If we don’t know how companies are dumping toxic waste and spending money, then they could be dumping waste into oceans and rivers along with spending money corruptly. Usually it’s the people’s tax dollars or shareholders money that is being misused and without checkbook journalism, and news outlets, e would not even know about it until it is too late when economies, ecosystems and lives are ruined. The main reason why people knowing about these potential corrupt actions and already corrupt actions will stop or prevent governments corporations from doing what they’re doing is the same reasoning that someone’s parents gave them about what the limits of what he and his girlfriend could do “only do something that you would be comfortable doing with your mom in the room watching you” that very same logic applies to what corporations and governments are doing and are going to do in the future.
Checkbook journalism isn’t just about finding economical problems and money problems, in fact its most important role for many countries today is to inform us about how governments are really spending their time. Like whether or not they are coming up with new ways to help boost the economy safely or if they are drinking and telling old war stories all day. Government accountability provided through checkbook journalism is the kind of information needed today especially in third world countries where governments could be lying cheating and misspending money that could be used to help feed the poor and homeless.
Many third world countries citizens live in appalling conditions of poverty, thirst, starvation, and overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions. Some form of mutual exchange is inherent in every substantial reporting project (Boynton). The citizens of countries who suffer in these harsh conditions may find succor through the help of checkbook journalism. Exposing the corruption that is causing social ills can help remove drugs from the streets and international support groups can be made aware of communities they can help also the corrupt governments that contribute to the harsh conditions can be hit with sanctions until hey clean up their corruption.
Checkbook journalism can improve the economy worldwide by helping to seek out and expose corruption and bring good, fair priced marketing back into play instead of today’s over inflated prices. On account of organizations like the Society of Professional Journalism (SPJ) many people think that checkbook journalism is taboo or bad. The real question is, why? Why does the SPJ say that journalists and news outlets should be wary of checkbook journalism.
Checkbook journalism, compared to the normal way that journalist go about getting information, is like the new taxi service, Uber, which is a taxi service that you are able to call or summon by the touch of a screen. Uber is better priced and more convenient for everyone. Checkbook journalism is like Uber it is, in most cases, a better, more efficient way to obtain information. Paying sources threatens how journalists used to traditionally go about getting information to report, but times and traditions change. What worked efficiently in journalism 10 or 15 years ago may not be the most efficient way to go about reporting now.
The journalist mission is generally to find the truth, yet many journalists and journalistic society’s decide that they do not want to find the truth if it does not accord with their purist ideas and the way that they have done reporting in the past. Paying for a source goes against what many journalist stand for, people do not usually welcome change and often will rebel against it saying that it messes up the order of things. However, change is a part of the evolution of life, journalism needs to use all the tools available to discover the truth and help convey that information to the public.
Without change to investigative reporting methods, journalists will be left behind and corruption will be able to hid its hoary head from detection. In the end, checkbook journalism is an amazing practice and resource that can benefit all. checkbook journalism can cast a light through the darkness and secrets of the world. Along with that, Checkbook journalism is not as bad as it is portrayed by many organisations in the world and if we allow it to function unprosecuted the way it is supposed to function then its light can cast away the darkness of the world.