The Columbia journalism review takes a look at the concept of Checkbook journalism in its latest issue.
Robert Boyton suggests that sometimes journalists are too concerned about ethics rather than the profession itself
"journalists and journalism educators have become obsessed with the profession’s ethics. While it is undoubtedly good that the profession is more self-conscious about its values, I worry that we sometimes emphasize it to a fault."
He reminds us that
"The standard argument against checkbook journalism is that paying for information creates an additional incentive for subjects to lie or embellish the truth. And even if a subject tells the truth, the fact that he’s been paid undermines the journalist’s position as a disinterested observer. "
but counters that by asking
But what about the journalist who spends months, perhaps years, trailing his subjects? Do the daily reporter’s ethical constraints apply when one is interviewing a character dozens of times over a long period, often depriving him of every shred of privacy.
It's well worth a read