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March 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Calling it “the latest instance of pay-to-play, or ‘checkbook journalism,’ by NBC,” the Washington Post disclosed today (Thursday) that the network agreed to pay the family of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman killed by Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, for their cooperation in a series of interviews, including Tuesday’s interview with Steenkamp’s mother June on Tuesday’s Today show. Pistorius’s murder trial began the preceding day in Pretoria, South Africa. An NBC spokesman acknowledged that it had paid Steenkamp’s family for unspecified use of “materials” for the interviews. In reporting the transaction, the Post observed, “The practice of paying sources is routine among European and American tabloid journalists but is considered ethically questionable by mainstream organizations, which usually shun it. Critics say such payments may induce a news source to dramatize or distort an account.” The newspaper cited several recent incidents in which the network, it said, has paid as much as $100,000 for exclusive interviews.