News of the World (NotW) would fork out £1,000 per exclusive to its network of public servant sources, according to the paper's former features editor.
Matt Nixson, who worked for NotW and the Sun, revealed the fees in court papers as part of his unfair dismissal claim against former employers News International (NI).
Nixson was fired from the Sun for allegedly paying a prison officer for information relating to the child murderer Ian Huntley.
He is claiming that he did not break the company's code of conduct and so he should not have been sacked.
"The practice of paying persons for information that could form the basis of an article was well-established, widespread and openly sanctioned," Nixson's statement said.
This happened "frequently", it added.
Nixson was guilty of gross misconduct or conduct justifying dismissal without notice or pay, according to News Corp, NI's parent company.
His claim was a fresh blow for News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch's who is about to launch his News of the World replacement, the Sun on Sunday.
Ten Sun journalists have been arrested in the Scotland Yard probe into inappropriate payments to police. None has been charged.
Nixson is not one of those arrested.
Other court documents, unearthed by the Daily Telegraph, reveal that NotW bosses ordered staff to delete any emails that could be used against them in a legal battle.