Ethics Panel Blasts NBC's 'Checkbook Journalism'
Journalist group objects to network flying the Goldmans home
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 29, 2009 6:49 PM CST
David Goldman, top, followed by his 9-year-old son Sean, gestures as he boards a plane at the Galeao airport, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   (Silvia Izquierdo)

(Newser) – The Society of Professional Journalists has condemned NBC News for practicing "checkbook journalism" by chartering a jet to bring home from Brazil a US man and his son involved in a bitter custody battle. David Goldman granted an interview to Meredith Vieira of NBC's Today show that aired yesterday. "Paying for access taints the credibility and neutrality of what you are doing," said the chairman of the SPJ ethics committee.

NBC said Goldman was booked for Today before the network invited him on the plane. "Their going on the plane did not affect our coverage of the story or getting them booked at all," said a network spokeswoman. The flap comes after CNN and ABC acknowledged paying Flight 253 hero Jasper Schuringa for the rights to his photos. Most news organizations don't pay for interviews, but critics say the commonly used practice of paying to license photos or video is a way of getting around the restriction.