NBC buys exclusive footage of Wisconsin plane collision, takes heat for "checkbook journalism" [VIDEO]

A helmet cam still of the planes as they collided.
A helmet cam still of the planes as they collided.

Around 6 p.m. Saturday, two small planes containing 11 people -- nine skydivers and two pilots -- collided over Superior, Wisconsin, sending one of the planes spiraling 12,000 feet to the ground in fiery pieces.

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Miraculously, everyone involved survived with nothing more than minor injuries. And in an almost equally miraculous development given the smartphone age we live in, no video of the crash emerged until last night.

But on yesterday's 10 o'clock news, NBC ran exclusive footage of the scary wreck captured by helmet cams worn by some of the skydivers.

Here it is:

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Some media observers are criticizing NBC for paying the nine divers and two pilots involved more than $100,000 for the video. As the Washington Post reports, that style of "checkbook journalism" is considered unethical by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Then again, what difference does a little criticism make when you can pop a big rating, especially during a "sweeps" month?

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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