Checkbook journalism describes a reporter or media company paying for stories. It involves providing financial incentives or compensation to a potential news source. Checkbook journalism is common when the subject is a celebrity, top government official, or a criminal organization. For example, a reporter can offer money or paid vacation to a prominent figure’s public assistant to persuade them to disclose personal details or information about their employer.
Although checkbook journalism is an accepted practice, critics argue that it undermines journalistic integrity. Paying someone for a story makes them susceptible to lying or exaggerating information to sound relevant and appealing. Such individuals may also hide information and offer the side that favors them.