Cheque-Book Journalism

Essay by lukecasley November 2004

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Cheque-book journalism presents one of the issues that modern western and capitalist societies must deal with. Do we allow massively profitable and wealthy corporations profit further from peoples stories and events in their lives? Do we allow money, the chase for ratings and advertising dollars into our news and current affair programs? Why should anyone receive "payments" for letting a cheque-book journalist in on their story or an event in their life? Do we have a right to fair, balanced and just journalism? This is one of the most explosive and complex issues, with massive and influential stakeholders looking at it from a million different angles.

Just before "A Current Affair" comes on, there is always an advertisement and whose is this? It's Nissan, the Japanese car company who is a major sponsor of the show. Everywhere you see it mentioned it is: "Nissan presents, A Current Affair". Why is this? So the Nine Network can pay their bills and make a tidy profit at the same time. Channel 9's owner PBL earned AUD 3169.5 million in 2003. This is absolutely unavoidable, television stations haft to make money and they haft to be able to support themselves. But how far do we let them off the leash? At the moment, every time a story that either causes national debate or national outrage, there is a bidding war for the exclusive rights to the story. This is purely because if people already have some knowledge of a story they are much more likely to watch it and the advertisements the program contains. The intent of these stories is to sensationalise and push these stories to get maximum ratings and exposure, there is no effort to provide information or raise awareness of an issue, subject or place. At the...