Checkbook Journalism: ABC’s $200K To C. Anthony For Videos


ABC News has admitted that it paid Florida accused murderer Casey Anthony $200,000 in exchange for exclusive rights to video and photos, reports The network denies that the payments included agreements for interviews. The revelation came yesterday in an Orlando court hearing aimed at trying to determine if Anthony is broke and needs financial help to mount a defense. The ABC payments were made in 2008 while Anthony was under investigation but not yet charged with the first-degree murder of her daughter, Caylee.

ABC stations have repeatedly aired the images and video but have not, until now, revealed the long-rumored financial arrangement behind them. Jill Geisler, a former TV news director now at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, told Poynter colleague Al Tompkins: “Checkbook journalism may score exclusives, which news organizations inevitably tout. Why then, do those news outlets routinely withhold information from readers and viewers about the financial deals behind the stories? Might detailed disclosures lead the public to question — even challenge — those arrangements? If leaders of traditional, tabloid or new media put dollars into the pockets of their sources, they should attach itemized receipts to their reports.”

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