A large majority of journalists and public relations practitioners around the world say it is not professional for media to accept payments from news sources in return for coverage. Nevertheless, more than one in three practitioners and one in five journalists say it is generally considered okay in their countries for national media to accept such payments. Only 60 percent say that paid-for material is always or often identified as advertising in national daily newspapers.
These findings come from a survey conducted by Dr. Katerina Tsetsura, University of Oklahoma. The research was done in partnership with five leading international professional associations: International Public Relations Association, International Federation of Journalists, International Press Institute, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, and the Institute for Public Relations.
The research presentation at the 2008 International Public Relations Research Conference in Miami was based on results of a global Internet survey of 574 public relations practitioners and journalists. The data were collected in Fall 2007.
Results showed that payment for news coverage is present in a variety of forms throughout the world. Several factors were significant in predicting the existence of the phenomenon worldwide. These factors included the frequency of news releases published in exchange for advertising in the same media, advertising sales department influence on editorial decisions, and sources putting financial pressure on news priorities.
The Miami presentation provided an initial top-line review of the research results. Future papers and presentations will further explore the relationships among higher levels of professionalism (journalists and public relations people), higher salaries for journalists, and lower incidence of media bribery.