Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ethics Lapse, 'Plane' & Simple: NBC News Pays for Exclusive Coverage of Aerial Mishap

NBC Nightly News broadcast
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Credit NBC News with the best disaster coverage money can buy, after the Washington Post detailed how the Peacock Network agreed to pay more than $100k to nine skydivers and the pilots who survived the midair crash of two small planes for exclusive coverage of their mishap.

The checkbook journalism nets NBC the right to air amateur footage from the divers' helmet cameras on Today, Dateline and the Nightly News with Brian Williams and two-week exclusive rights to interview the fortunate survivors, according to the Post article. Although print and radio journalists may speak to those involved in the accident, the divers and pilots will not sit down for any tv interviews other than for NBC during the two-week window, the Post quoted one of the survivors as saying.

Paying for stories is frowned on by the Society of Professional Journalists and other news groups because it encourages lazy journalism, tempts payees to embellish their stories and threatens to compromise the payor news organization's objectivity in its coverage. "TUOL" questions if NBC News' money is well-spent and wonders whether the midair crash, however thrilling to watch, is particularly informative for viewers. Here's hoping financially challenged would-be daredevils don't begin staging accidents in search of a big payday from a news organization.
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