Sunday, September 22, 2013

Money Changes Everything

AJ Davis

In "Checkbook Journalism's Slippery Slope," a good point was brought up.  Is it okay for journalist to take bribes for sources?  What a lot of people may not understand is that there is not a lot of money in journalism.  Most of us can expect to make around $20,000/year when we start out, and that's if we are lucky.  According to Payscale the average salary we can expect is only around $30,000/year.  So when it comes to bribes, is it really that surprising that so many journalist are caught accepting?

Taking Cash

When I hear that a journalist was caught taking a bribe I wonder if I would do the same thing.  After reading the article, I feel that I would be tempted to take it.  I want to have a family so I would need to support them and that is not something I can do on $30,000 a year.  However, I am not saying I would take the bribe, I am just saying I can see where these journalists are coming from.  The article pointed out that some of these journalists made out with more than $100,000! I know why they did it.  And even the little stuff, like receiving a nicer room and superstar service at a resort, I know personally I would have a hard time turning that down.  As far as I see it, as long as you do not lie, then it is not that bad.  Money corrupts, and journalists are not above that.

Big Businesses

What I find super ironic is the fact that the article does not point out that while it is bad that the individual journalist takes bribes, the producers and owners of the news outlets do it all the time.  Fox News takes huge amounts of money from private donors as long as they continue their coverage on mostly Republican and conservative views.  MSNBC is just as bad by taking bribes from mostly liberal donors.  It is unacceptable that it is more important to keep these donors happy than reporting the news.  In this day and age are they really any better than someone who takes a bribe?  This Huffington Post article makes a good point.  The news standards in the country need to be evaluated and changed.

What Can Be Done?

Courtesy of Jon
Money needs to not be the focus of journalism.  The BBC has the right idea -- get rid of the idea that news is profitable.  Maybe then it won't be about how much money the reporter is making but how well they can tell the news.  If that reporter feels that he is not getting as much money as he should be when his producer or editor is raking in the profits, then they won't turn to bribes.  It would promote more ethical journalism, and then maybe the country will even start to trust us again.  The BBC is consistently rated as most trustworthy and for them, there is no profit.  And they aren't told what to say by bribers or "donors" as major news outlets will claim they are.  Hopefully one day news outlets will realize that the public's trust is not worth making a profit, and reporters will learn that journalism isn't about the money but about reporting what the people need to know.

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