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SPJ Slams NBC’s ‘Checkbook Journalism.’ ‘NBC Jeopardized its Journalistic Independence and Credibility’

Goldman_12.30.jpgAs TVNewser first reported last Thursday morning, NBC News paid to charter a flight from Brazil to the U.S. to bring David Goldman and his 9-year-old son Sean home. The flight even stopped over in Orlando so NBC News correspondent Jeff Rossen could do a live shot for NBC Nightly News on Christmas Eve.

Well, the Society of Professional Journalists isn’t very happy about all this.

Calling it “checkbook journalism,” the SPJ put out a news release that reads in part:

By making itself part of a breaking news story on which it was reporting – apparently to cash in on the exclusivity assured by its expensive gesture – NBC jeopardized its journalistic independence and credibility in its initial and subsequent reports. In effect, the network branded the story as its own, creating a corporate and promotional interest in the way the story unfolds. NBC’s ability to report the story fairly has been compromised by its financial involvement.

SPJ Ethics Committee Chairman Andy Schotz says, “NBC must now, belatedly, explain why it entangled its news reporting and corporate interests in this story, as well as the terms of any deal it made with the Goldman family.”

In addition to being interviewed on board the flight home, Goldman was interviewed on the “Today” show yesterday and will be part of a two-hour “Dateline” on Jan. 8.

NBC began reporting on the Goldman saga earlier this year. But the story was first brought to light on WABC, ABC’s owned & operated station in New York. David Goldman lives in New Jersey.

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