Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Media Law-


A cheque is issued to make payment. But in journalism it has a peculiar meaning. Here, a journalist pays money for the right to publish his story. The term “chequebook  journalism is used in a derogatory and negative sense. The understanding is that stories obtained by praying people are not so worthy as those obtained by traditional methods and investigations.
It is defined as the practice of securing exclusive rights to material for newspaper stories by paying a high price for it, regardless of any moral implications. For instance, it may involve paying people to boast of criminal or morally reprehensible activities.
An example of chequebook journalism is the f
amous case where five men were charged with plotting to kill Victoria Beckham, wife of soccer star David Beckham. The media paid money to the witnesses in  the case to get stories out of them.
The trail collapsed as the court decided that the charges of plotting to kidnap were false.  This raised questions about when and whether it is acceptable for the media to pay witnesses in criminal cases for their stories.
The fear is that a witness who has been offered money may be tempted to exaggerate their evidence to justify their fee- or hold something back for publication later.Either way the witness becomes
unreliable.However, those who defend payments to people who may become witnesses in criminal trials argue they are important tool of investigative journalism. They feel that sometimes people just don’t want to tell their stories unless they’re paid.The code of ethics says that payments to people who may become witnesses at a earlier stage are permitted, but only way to get it. Under no circumstances must witnesses be offered more money on the event of a conviction.
Thus, Checkbook Journalism is term used when newspaper and other media pay people to tell their story. It is believed that the truth usually suffers in deals like this. Often the person telling the story will say what the journalists want to hear, in order to get the money.
In many countries, especially the UK and US it is becoming an accepted practice. A section of thinkers believe that it has a corrupting influence. It either encourages exaggeration/ colouring of information or suppresses it, depending upon the situation.  It becomes particularly problematic when these payments are made to source who are witnesses or crime or convicted of crime.

 In India, this kind of journalism is not practiced. Most journalists have disregard for it. Chequebook journalism remains restricted to sleazy tabloids who do not mind paying, say Britney spear’s hair-dresser, a large sum of money for some story about Britney’s love life. In the UK however, cheque-book journalism flourishes. At one level, it is the mainstay of the tabloids. The Sun, The Daily Mirror, The News of the World or The Daily Mail have no hesitation in paying for stories. These could range from the confessions of a high class call girl to something more substantial and significant.
But at another level, it could be an integral part of investigate journalism. If a reporter pays a security guard to gain access to restricted space or it a correspondent pays money to driver to tell him who he drove where, this might be acceptable.


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