NBC News Pays For Interviews With Reeva Steenkamp's Family

NBC has agreed to pay Reeva Steenkamp's family a "modest fee" for cooperating in several interviews about Oscar Pistorius' former girlfriend.
Posted at 9:42 AM, Mar 06, 2014

As the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius continues in South Africa, NBC News has agreed to pay Reeva Steenkamp's family a "modest fee" for cooperating in several interviews about the paralympian's former girlfriend.

The Washington Post revealed the agreement Wednesday, just one day after NBC's "Today" show aired an exclusive interview with Steenkamp's mother about the man who shot and killed her daughter on Valentine's Day last year.

"Look, I'm not going to give you my personal feelings about what I think. But I've got to depend on the justice system that we get justice." (Via NBC)

After that interview aired, NBC News production unit Peacock Productions UK announced that it had paid June Steenkamp and the rest of her family.

NBC News' senior VP of communications said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, "Peacock Productions UK is making three separate documentaries about the Steenkamp family for various outside clients. As is normal, they have paid a very modest licensing fee for materials they will access."

As The Washington Post points out, paying sources for interviews or information happens fairly frequently among American and European tabloid journalists. But the practice is usually considered unethical by mainstream media outlets.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists' ethics committee, "Money can corrupt almost anything it touches, and that certainly includes the news. The practice of paying for information, known as checkbook journalism, threatens to corrupt journalism."

But NBC seems to have taken a different stance on the subject and has whipped out its checkbook for several exclusive interviews in the last year.

The network made headlines in October when it forked over a reported six figures to get the first and only interview with teen California kidnapping victim Hannah Anderson and her father. (Via Vanity Fair)

And the very next month, NBC's news division raised eyebrows again by paying to lock up interviews with nine sky divers and two pilots who survived a terrifying mid-air accident and caught the whole thing on video.

Some are attributing these aggressive moves to NBC News' new president, Deborah Turness, who The Guardian reports took the position back in August after leaving ITV News in Britain.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC News says it also asked the Steenkamps for an interview but decided to back out once the family asked for payment.