Ethics and Issues in Journalism/Media

Continuing the discussion from 60 Minutes:

Funnily enough, I just did an essay for a journalism class regarding chequebook journalism. Wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts on media organisations paying for stories. :slightly_smiling:

The majority of us agree that what the Nine Network did in this circumstance was extreme. However, should media organisations not pay money to a source at all, or do you think there are genuine circumstances that justifies the payment of a source?


Great topic. I think a lot of journalists ethics are questionable. I have been quite cross at shows like Sunday Night and 60 Minutes for years. Dont get me wrong their interview skills are undeniable great just not at all tactful or care for about the stories or people involved.

As for the payment question. I believe payment is fair as long as its legally given and used.

[quote=“turdall, post:2, topic:1139”]
As for the payment question. I believe payment is fair as long as its legally given and used.
[/quote] I think nowadays ‘chequebook’ journalism and paying for interviews is common and necessary. I don’t have a problem with it.


ABC is the leader in investigative journalism yet still manages to maintain its integrity and avoidance of payments.


there is chequebook journalism and then there is what we saw in Lebanon

What we’ve seen with 60 minutes is a scary escalation in an attempt to get what is considered to be a big story (well, big enough to beat whatever the competition put out that week). But now what we have is an even bigger meta-story (that will be no doubt told over countless nights) of just how ludicrous a concept the original story was and the stupid lengths that our media will now go to in order to attempt to get a story - and it will deliver ratings gold to Channel Nine

There are ethical issues about the journalism in this story, no doubt about that - but if any of these allegations / suggestions about what happened post the arrests is true, then there are bigger ethical issues that transcend journalism and go to suggest a culture at Channel Nine that they will do anything (including allegedly dealing with some shady people) to extricate their staff from the mess.

It somewhat pains me to say this, but I agree with David Koch that there needs to be some investigation from Government Agencies into the circumstances surrounding their release


I think that’s what it boils down to. As long as the general viewing public keeps consuming and the money keeps rolling, it’ll be hard to put a stop to this.


It depends.

Should there be a financial incentive for people to air their stories? Some would argue no, others say that chequebook journalism may be the only way to incentivise people to come forward with their stories.

What I don’t think is in any way constructive is what happened in Lebanon. The Schapelle Corby incident was also another example.

Ultimately I think there are greater problems with journalism in Australia than chequebook journalism. Chequebook journalism would be great if commercial networks paid government or corporate whistleblowers $$$ in order to reveal secrets and bring down corruption/illegal activity.

I feel that the chequebook scandals of the past few years are relatively small in comparison to the issues Australian journalism as a whole faces. While the ABC and SBS still place a large degree of emphasis on quality journalism, once one strays out into commercial TV, the Murdoch rags or even Fairfax, you’ll find journalism which is nothing more than vacuous, dumbed down tripe which doesn’t go near informing or promoting a healthy, consensus building debate. It’s all about celebrity, scandal and crime.

It is interesting however that the viewership of traditional news organisations is falling. It may or may not be down to anything more than changing means by which people get their information, however I feel that there is a whole lot more distrust in the ‘big boys’ of commercial media than there was even a few years ago. Perhaps there is a short-term gain, long term pain scenario happening here.


The ‘dumbing down’ of our commercial journalism is a genuine concern. What once led news bulletins 20 years ago, is sometimes now relegated to the B block after the 1st commercial break. In relation to viewership changes, it could be that people seeking ‘quality’ journalism are going elsewhere. Thank to the Internet, it isn’t hard to find.

Matlock puts out an interesting question - is Australian commercial media performing their role adequately as the fourth estate?

The danger is that stunts like what we saw in Lebanon will become more prevalent as viewership drops - as well as a push towards news and current affairs that rate rather then inform (in some respects we already see this, particularly around what @Techster refers to in dumbing down coverage

There is quality journalism out there - and its not limited to new media as well, but there is a severe dearth of it in the commercial television space of this country though


No. But why would we expect them to anyway? They’re reporting for profit.

To be honest from a business perspective they could save a lot if they just allowed their journalists to spend more time developing stories over the long run instead of just whipping out the chequebook and running the story the next week. They just need a bit of foresight.

Ratings and quality journalism aren’t mutually exclusive, they just have to be focusing on what people want to watch. You can’t expect ABC-standard exposés that uncover complex matters of true severity and national significance, but instead commercial television should be looking at exclusive profilings and human interest stories that go beyond your typical ACA interview or Nine News transport exclusive handed down from an early published press release. Freedom of information investigations and uncovering different perspectives on issues that remain relevant to the general public doesn’t require a whole lot. Just a bit of time to stray away from the 24hr news cycle paradigm we’ve somehow accepted. Fairfax (although nothing like its former self) is a prime example.


Good point, but I might suggest that it never really existed in great amounts on commercial TV anyways. For every Sunday or 60 Minutes, there were always plenty more Real Lifes, Today Tonights and Hitches being put to air each week.

Perhaps the news was much more authoritative and trustworthy back when there was dialup and only 5 channels on free-to-air, but I don’t think it was ever high brow or quality journalism. The introduction of the internet and social media has forced commercial TV to become more aggressive and sensationalist, but fear mongering and misleading reporting has at no stage been scarce in Australia. If anything, I think the internet and increased competition has shown commercial media for what it always has been - chasing profit by any means necessary.

Interesting comments by Tara Brown on 60 last night as well. She and Nine still think they’re above the law. Incredible.

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Pretty disgusting too if it’s true that they did pay off Elamine for the release of their crew and just left the child recovery agents. Channel Nine not giving itself a good look. Love seeing the Sportsbet sponsored cash giveaway ads for the Footy Show too. :pensive:

I don’t feel sorry for the agents. They came out attacking Nine in an attempt to save themselves less than a week earlier. They botched the job, used unnecessary force, and evidently ended up getting everyone arrested (some will beg to differ).
The agency initially falsified stories in an attempt to throw the Nine crew under the bus, why should Nine feel obligated to help them now?
Some advice for them- don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

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Broadly, I’d probably have to agree with matlock by saying that commercial TV (and indeed, most commercial media generally) news/current affairs probably has always had a level of sensationalism. Is sensationalism in the media more prevalent now than ever before? That’s quite debatable.

The general quality of news coverage in Australia? Well…while the ABC and SBS definitely hold a large degree of emphasis on quality journalism (and certainly a higher standard than commercial media), you have to remember this is mainly relevant to national and international news coverage.

As far as local news for different parts of Australia is concerned, well SBS quite simply don’t do local news and while the ABC have a vast local radio network, it’s TV news bulletins are restricted to state coverage and can’t do customised local news coverage for different cities and regions. That’s where the commercial media come in. For better or worse, the continued popularity of commercial news media clearly states that the consumer is still in content that’s relevant to their local area. Indeed, with all of the cutbacks (especially in regional media) over the past few years I’d probably argue that local news is more important now than it ever was before and is something we probably shouldn’t take for granted.

As far as chequebook journalism is concerned, I’m not sure about everyone else but unfortunately I personally do not believe that there would be a single media outlet in this country who has not been guilty of participating in it at some point or another.

The recent 60 Minutes saga? While I, like most people do think it was an absolute disgrace and is for the most part completely undefendable, somehow I have little doubt that another Australia media outlet would’ve been involved in the story if Nine tuned it down completely.

Generally, I think there’s much more scrutiny of the traditional media outlets by the consuming public than there was even five years ago and that’s probably a good thing.

Nine paid them to ‘extract’ the children- they are overwhelmingly the ones that should take a lot responsibility in my view. It seems pretty awful that they (allegedly) pay for the release of their own who were (although not as directly involved) perpetrating the crime almost as much as the extractors. The fact that then the crew were released by the giving up of her custody rights too just add to the disgusting nature of Nine’s positon in the whole ordeal.

It’s like blaming the hitman alone for an assassination rather than the client as well.

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Last night Media Watch looked at the Nationality of the main newsreaders at the Capital City stations.

The only mistake in it was they had Libby Stone on Nine News Perth, when she was replaced with Emmy Kubainski last year.

<img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/c/cc0881b93d3406e04d83d8233254e8ab30d90e2b.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/3/3b735dd308c841d67b5c3735b0e725e20165f726.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/b/bb0db7f99e620ec9742eadacb3d9772e849b2425.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/a/a0744dea51ddb9065834ee4aa40158e68aa4823b.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/5/5011bec9991ed9c60359e65da1cd418ec66bf495.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/d/d3f1b7763fb8ef02bbdb2f73d497cbc12b3df165.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/c/cdc87d06019eccf8cc45f2d2e68ebce3c6abc1f9.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/c/c79e7592358f7d16ba62cb068b03d4e04d8f7c02.jpg" width=“300” height=><img src="/uploads/default/original/2X/e/ebcdeef3e64bc14838fc7f6c419d86af79741430.jpg" width=“300” height=>

It’s all well and good for Media Watch to say that a majority of Australia’s newsreaders (or TV presenters in general) are white and that only a select few are from more culturally diverse backgrounds, but surely this is not a situation that’s unique to this country?

Of course, I definitely think it would be great to see more culturally diverse faces on TV (and it will probably happen eventually, just like how there’s many more female newsreaders and reporters on Australian TV compared to say 30 years ago) but I’m struggling to understand the point that Media Watch is trying to make here.

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Good to see Rebel Wilson suing some Australian media magazines due to defamation. They shouldn’t be able to state what they want.

Reading yesterday about former journalist Adam Walters latest venture, a mobile phone app for Uber drivers to sell breaking news clips to television stations, reminded me of his notorious outing of ex NSW transport minister David Campbell. During this interview with Walters on Sunrise, Koch showed that he has journalistic​ ethics and couldn’t understand why Walters had outed Campbell.

I was so glad when he left TEN too.

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