Background

Public Relations Society of America Professional Standards Advisory
In 2008, the PRSA provided guidance to practitioners on steps they must take to avoid violating its code of ethics with respect to pay-for-play practices.

PRSA Speaks Out On “Pay for Play,” Strengthens Code of Ethics’ Transparency Provisions
America’s leading public relations association updates its code of ethics in response to pay-for-play concerns.

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission issues a new directive on paid endorsements, including disclosure requirements for bloggers undertaking product reviews.

FTC .Com Disclosures
This document from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission provides extensive information on transparency requirements for online marketers and promoters.

Payola Scandal Rocks Radio
A brief history of the payola issue in U.S. radio.

Critics

PR Pitch: We’ll pay you to Mention Our Clients
This article criticizes a public relations agency for offering to pay a reporter for product mentions.

Payola Journalism: A Breach of Ethics
A professor of journalism ethics argues that the rise of professional paid media wordsmiths poses a severe challenge to reporting.

Pay-To-Play: Journalism’s Hairy Underbelly
Why PR professionals and corporate executives should avoid the alluring trap of pay-to-play coverage.

Conservative Media’s Pay-To-Play Deals
The author calls out Rush Limbaugh for giving positive air time to an organization that spends significant sponsorship dollars to support his talk show.

Media: The Future of Newspapers is Pay for Play Journalism?
Arguments against a pay-for-play model as a possible solution to the problem of financially struggling newspapers.

Champions

Journalism and Marketing debate: Blogging for Payola
This writer questions the effectiveness of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s product review disclosure guidelines.

Why Not Pay Sources?
One writer’s argument for paying news sources, sometimes.

Pay Up
This Columbia Journalism Review article argues that media organizations that pay for news make important contributions to the profession.

When it’s O.K. to Pay for a Story
This New York Times op-ed argues that journalists should not rule out paying sources, so long as this is rare and transparent.

In defense of Pay-to-Play Journalism
The author argues that journalists with a clear ideological leaning may be justified in accepting financial benefits in exchange for sympathetic media coverage.

Related Topics

Pushing the Red Envelope
This article highlights the rise of paid journalism in China.

IFJ Principles on the Conduct of Journalists
The standards of professional conduct from the International Federation of Journalists.

UNESCO Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics
This website is a public knowledge resource on media accountability issues.

Is South African Journalism Plagued by Payola?
South Africa’s leading editors discuss the impact of ‘brown envelopes’ and freebies on the profession.

Chequebook Journalism at NBC
CNN’s Reliable Sources discusses accusations that NBC violated ethical codes by paying for a news item (video).

Other

The Ethics of Advertorials
How to make sure that an advertorial does not mislead or create a false impression that it is editorial content.

The New P.R.? Content Marketing and Brand Journalism
A discussion of this emerging field and how it is allowing companies to self-publish their own content, under the guise of journalism.

National Enquirer
A newspaper that unashamedly pays for stories.