Which factors determine whether academics get paid when they give interviews in the media (or other kind of media appearances, e.g. debates)?

I am mostly interested in the field of computer science, and English-speaking venues.

I am also interested any statistics giving some insights on how frequently academics get paid for media appearances, and how much.

  • 3
    This is probably more about the policies of the media organization than anything having to do with academia. For instance, mainstream US news outlets generally make it a policy never to pay for interviews but in the UK it seems to be fairly common. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 5:29
  • @NateEldredge I'd be surprised by news organizations paying for interviews, but there's a whole lot more on the TV than just news. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 11:13
  • Not sure if that helps, but some big research projects have budgets for media outreaches, creating materials (videos, websites, articles), etc. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 12:27
  • US media organizations may not pay for interviews...but they do have "consultants" which they pay, and in return can interview whenever a relevant subject comes up. (And perhaps competing media organizations cannot interview them?)
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


Generally speaking, academics do not get paid to be interviewed by the mainstream media. The interview is often regarded as a chance to promote one's research, expertise and increase one's reputation and fame. Also ego may play a role (which might be exploited by the media).

Things might be different when one already has received a fair amount of exposure in the mainstream media, and is regarded and recognized as an expert on a certain matter. In those cases you might even be in the rolodex of the media agencies and journalists (which leads them to you when anything pops up in your domain). Also it makes sense to have an agent represent you when you have reached this status, because the agent can negotiate the payments and relief you from the communication overhead. But for the vast majority of the academics that is not the case.

  • 3
    As I've said below, I've never heard of the situation you describe in the second paragraph (I'm not particularly high-profile but I know scientists who are, and they've never been offered money for interviews). The exception is if you're actually employed as a presenter, but that's a separate issue.
    – arboviral
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 8:23

Almost never. I have done interviews for local, national and international news and other programmes (and know many others who have done this as well); I've never heard of anyone being paid anything for it. After one interview I asked a the reporter why they always invited a certain scientist as an 'expert' even on fields fairly distant from his actual expertise, the three reasons I was given were (1) he 'looks like a scientist' (that's a whole separate issue), (2) he lives near the studio, and (3) he doesn't ask for money.

The exception would be if you are filming a series as a presenter, in which case arguably you're not being paid as an academic at all but as a presenter. I know a few people who have made a partial or complete move into presenting scientific television series and of course they get paid just like any other presenter.

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