ABC News Vows To Stop Paying For Interviews (Except When They Need To)


Just over a month after ABC (alongside NBC) admitted to paying sources to appear on its shows and/or provide specific information or images in the form of “licensing fees,” checkbook journalism has come to an end for the news network.

Sort of.

In his Monday column, The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz reveals that ABC’s news division president Ben Sherwood is vowing to put an end to “paying news subjects in connection with exclusive interviews.”

Spokesman Jeffrey Schneider confirmed the decision to Kurtz:

“We can book just about anyone based on the strength of our journalism, the excellence of our anchors, correspondents, and producers, and the size of our audience. These licensing deals had become a crutch, and an unnecessary one.”

Not so fast.

Kurtz goes on to explain, that this is “not an absolute ban” and “network sources say it would take an extraordinary circumstance to allow a licensing fee.”

Indeed. So ABC News will stop paying for interviews, unless they decide to pay for them.

Let’s take a look at some recent paid-for interviews that would be considered “extraordinary circumstances”:

  • As Kurtz points out, ABC News came under criticism in 2008 after paying Casey Anthony $200,000 for photos, just before she was charged with her daughter Caylee’s murder.
  • They also paid Roy Kronk, who first discovered Caylee’s remains, $15,000 to licence “a photo of a snake.”
  • An exclusive interview with the ‘Botox mum’ who supposedly injected her 8-year-old daughter with Botox (which she later claimed was a lie).
  • Sexting details from Meagan Broussard who had an online relationship with congressman Anthony Weiner.
  • And recently, Diane Sawyer’s sit-down with kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard.

So yeah, one imagines “extraordinary circumstances” probably means, any time they want an exclusive and can’t get it any other way.

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