Terrorism and the Bailouts
Fifteen Minutes

Media Ethics and Checkbook Journalism

Most outrage results in an attack on the power structure.  Thus, people are outraged that one of the men who subdued the Nigerian fire starter wants paid for his story.  Paying someone for his story is "unethical," and is referred to as "checkbook journalism."

 Mr. Schuringa ... was, of course, one of the passengers on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 who helped subdue the man who tried to detonate an explosive on the plane on Christmas Day.The Dutchman was quick to contact the media with his 'hero' status, willing to tell his story in exchange for what now appears to be certain 'considerations.'

He wanted paid.  Why shouldn't be have been paid?  

Let's understand what popular media about.  It's about ad revenue.  It is about profiting from "news."  

A person who subdues a terrorist is good for ratings.  Greater ratings equals greater ad rates equals greater revenue...Fatter checkbooks, in other words.

Why is it ethical to profit off of a hero, but unethical for the hero to profit off of himself?

As with most "ethical questions," there is no logic in the answer - only power.  The media has the power to profit from the news.  They want to keep all of that power.  People who are actually covered in the news asking for money is a direct attack on the power structure.

There is indeed an ethical problem with "checkbook journalism."  It is indeed unethical for news organizations to profit off of the heroism of others.  It's time to open up the checkbooks, and to start sharing ad revenue.

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