In the 38 years I worked as a reporter, in both print and on television, we NEVER (as far as I know) ever paid for interviews.
It was part of the ethical belief wherever I worked that handing out cash, in any way, in exchange for an interview could set a terrible precedent and affect our perceived objectivity, and possibly even the reliability and believability of those we interviewed.
Paying for interviews has been done outside Canada, especially by the sensational tabloids … is that what we want here? I personally have always worried about the whole idea (everyone could start demanding cash for talking); affect our reporting standards (quoting free or cheaper sources than more expensive but experienced ones); colour our objectivity (paying one interviewee more than another); encourage false or exaggerated tales (the more you pay the better a story you get); and cast doubt on the truthfulness of our content (readers/viewers could wonder ‘How much did they pay him/her to say that?’).
I can recall a few occasions during my own career where I handed out $5 to a homeless person or street kid and once, $20 to a poor mother, after doing interviews … but they NEVER asked for the money before agreeing to doing the interview: it was totally a personal gesture on my part, afterwards, and I have never regretted it.
But according to the Globe and Mail, Global TV Vancouver (my old employer) paid out $5,000 to get an interview with Graham McMynn, the kidnap victim held for ransom for eight days before being rescued by police. McMynn did not receive any money directly, but the station reportedly paid the money to a charity of his choice: The Vancouver Police Foundation. in return for his interview.
Bet HE doesn’t get any traffic tickets for some time!! LOL
Quite apparently .. and not a surprise to anyone who has read this Blog for any time .. it is my own sad view that the news standards at Global TV (and some other current major media as well) are not what they used to be. But payment for an interview surprised even me!
I hope other news stations do not follow Global’s precedent. I hear CTV was approached but refused to pay. I applaud that decision.
However I guess we live in “new” times. And I, of course, always like to be helpful … especially if it can help raise cash for some very worthwhile charities! 🙂
Therefore, in keeping with the apparent new standards and other recent precedents, allow me to suggest a “2009 BC Media Price List for Interviews Given or Granted” to be used by any ethically-challenged stations.
FEES TO BE PAID (proceeds, of course, to charity):
Interview with Crime Victim $5,000
Interview with injured/maimed crime victim $6,000 .. plus $100 per scar shown
Interview with an accused criminal $5,000
Interview with convicted criminal $6,000
Interview with violent criminal who videotaped his/her crime $8,000 (add $500 for lots of bleepable swearing)
Interview with tell-all public servant $4,000 (add $100 for each unmarked brown envelope provided … $200 if there’s anything inside)
FEES TO BE CHARGED (proceeds to charity) :
Candidate for any public office $500 (20-second clip); $800 (45 second clip); $900 (up to a minute … and no questions asked)
Elected city councillor trying to publicize an issue $400; MLA $600; MP $700… plus GST.
Cabinet Minister making an Announcement $2,000 (more than six months before next scheduled election); $5000 (under six months from next election) $7,500 for any announcement at any time, with no questions asked afterwards; $9,000 for any announcement … with analysis afterwards praising the content.
Opposition critics … $3,000 for a 20-second comment. No other levels available.
Opposition Leader … No charge … but only short, edited clips, and placement in show TBA
Premier .. No charge … Prime Time… Up to 12 Minutes uninterupted and unedited, in keeping with established 2008 precedent. (However, LOTS of government advertising expected in return)
Harv Oberfeld … NEVER MENTION …. EVER … NO WAY …NO MORE (unless he is criminally charged or audited by Revenue Canada)
Please submit your 2009 requests to your local ethically-challenged media outlet now for your desired interview time/selection. And watch for their Christmas Specials, when so little is going on in the news.