Browse Reports

Subject is exactly Undercover
A New York Tribune article written as part of the "The Witches of New-York" series by Mortimer Thomson.

"The Witches of New York" - Mortimer Thomson (Q.K. Philander Doesticks, P.B) - New York Tribune

The popular humorist and New York Tribune columnist used the undercover ruse often in his newspaper work. In this instance, he visited a number of New York purveyors of "the black arts" and exposed their cons.
New York Tribune article titled, "The Tahiti Carried No Slaves."

"Blackbirding" - The Slave System's Just-as-Evil Twin?

Journalists from the United States and Australia get inside the post-Civil War practice of recruiting Pacific Islanders to work the world's non-U.S. plantations on extended contracts of indenture.
San Francisco Chronicle article titled, "Sex Fear Among the Cons." Written by Tim Findley as part of the "Behind Prison Bars" series.

"Behind Prison Bars" - Tim Findley & Charles Howe - San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle prisons investigation involving undercover as a prisoner by Tim Findley and as a guard by Charles Howe.

"The Convicted" - R.H. Ring's and John S. Long - Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Daily Star reporter R.H. Ring spent 10 days posing as a maximum-security convict at Arizona's Florence State Penitentiary. Very few people in the prison system knew of his stay, not even Florence's warden.
San Francisco Chronicle article titled, "County Jails Exposed -- Story of Cruelty, Filth." Written by Pierre Salinger.

California Jails Expose - Pierre Salinger - San Francisco Chronicle

Pierre Salinger goes undercover in two California jails (with pre-arranged faux arrests) to investigate conditions throughout the state penal system, as part of a major series for the San Francisco Chronicle. Salinger also did a follow-up series. 
Chicago Sun-Times article titled, "Making a Killing in Michigan Av. Clinics." Written by Pamela Zekman and Pamela Warrick as part of the "Abortion Profiteers" series.

"The Abortion Profiteers" - Pamela Zekman, Pamela Warrick - Chicago Sun-Times

A five-month investigation, led by Pamela Zekman, into the Michigan Avenue "abortion profiteers," and their dangerous and unsavory, unsanitary practices, including performing the procedure regularly on women who were not pregnant.
Washington Post article titled, "Female Homosexuality Prevalent." Written by Ben Bagdikian as part of the Shame of the Prisons series.

"The Shame of the Prisons"- Ben Bagdikian - Washington Post

The result of three months of reporting and a week undercover in a Pennsylvania prison, this series examines the conditions, challenges, and systematic culture of the US prison system. Stories focus on California, Washington DC, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
New York World Telegram and Sun article titled, "I Saw Human Shame as a Migrant Worker." Written by Dale Wright as part of the Forgotten People series.

"The Forgotten People" - Dale Wright - New York World Telegram & Sun

Reporter Dale Wright spent six months working on and off as a migrant worker along the Atlantic Seaboard for this series, which examines the conditions, exploitation, and legislation (and its effectiveness) of migrant laborer life.  ("The Forgotten People..A Report on Migrant Labor" by Dale Wright. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Dale Wright, c/o K.E. Wright-King ©1961, New York World-Telegram and Sun.)
Chicago Tribune article titled, "Filth and neglect bared at von Solbrig Hospital." Written by an Unsigned author for the Von Solbrig Task Force Report.

Von Solbrig Hospital - Task Force - Chicago Tribune

After hearing from a source that janitors, without washing, were sometimes used to move patients from surgery rooms to their beds, a  reporter poses as a janitor at Von Solbrig Hospital. The series, a Task Force investigation, also examines the institution's encouragement of unnecessary procedures for welfare patients.

"Invisible Man: Undercover at a Greenwich Country Club" - Lawrence Otis Graham - New York Magazine

A Lawrence Otis Graham, an Ivy league-educated lawyer went undercover as a bus boy at a Greenwich country club, curious about why the club doesn't seem to have any African American members.
Washington Post article titled, "Exploring the World of the Urban Derelict." Written by Neil Henry in 1980.

"Down & Out" - Neil Henry - Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Neil Henry lived for two months as a bum in Baltimore then Washington D.C.. The series, titled "Down & Out," is written in the first person and consists of profiles of the people and places he encountered and accounts of the daily routines of the homeless.

ACORN Investigation - James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles - Project Veritas

James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and a prostitute for an undercover camera investigation. Some low-level employees of the organization provided earnest answers to the pair's questions about avoiding detection and tax evasion, among other things.  Fox News and Andrew Breitbart's Biggovernment.com (which was launched with these videos) helped to push the story beyond conservative media outlets and draw attention to the pair's findings.  As a result, and after considerable media attention, ACORN was defunded by Congress.

Young Conservatives Investigate

The work of groups such as James O'Keefe's Project Veritas and Lila Rose's LiveAction and their undercover operations.

Planned Parenthood Sting - Lila Rose and James O'Keefe

Lila Rose, with the help of James O'Keefe, has targeted Planned Parenthood for undercover video investigations multiple times, alleging that her work proves the organization's support of black genocide, tolerance of the sex slave trade, and other criminal and civil offenses. 

"The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" - W. T. Stead - Pall Mall Gazette

W.T. Stead's sensational undercover series on "white slavery," child prostitution in and exported from London, featured the work of two women posing undercover as prostitutes and the purchase, by Stead himself, of a 13-year-old girl.

"I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days" - Ray Sprigle - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ray Sprigle, a white reporter from Pittsburgh, goes undercover as a light-skinned black man in the deep south. 
NBC Dateline article titled, "To Catch a Predator: Dangers children face online." Worked on by Chris Hansen.

"To Catch A Predator" - Chris Hansen - NBC Dateline

Dateline NBC ran a controversial, popular series of hidden camera stings across the country exposing (and, eventually, facilitating the arrest of) adult men who solicit sex with minors online. NBC paid an advocate group called Perverted Justice to set up "decoy" meetings with men who initiated sexual conversations with people posing as underage girls and boys. The men would show up at a house filled with NBC cameras, host Chris Hansen, and, as the series progressed, decoy actresses and police waiting outside. Hansen would confront the man with the transcripts of chat conversations leading up to the meeting. Once the police began to collaborate with the Perverted Justice stings, the men would walk outside only to be immediately arrested.
Fritz Kuhn addressing an audience on the Fourth of July that included reporters William Mueller and John Metcalfe.

Home-Grown Nazis- John C. Metcalfe and James J. Metcalfe - Chicago Daily Times

The Times published two simultaneous reports of time spent undercover with US Nazi groups in 1937, before World War II. The reporters, brothers John C. and James J. Metcalfe, gained the trust of their "leaders," gaining information deliberately kept out of the public sphere by the group. The reports are accompanied by stories about events in Germany, nazi action in the US, and results of the Times reports themselves. Everything's published here in the original page layout, with multiple stories per entry.
Logo for the American Mercury magazine.

John Roy Carlson's "Undercover with Our Fascist Enemies Within"

John Ray Carlson is the pen name for Avedis Boghos Derounian.  His book, "Under Cover," and the American Mercury article "Our Fascist Enemies Within" were based on extensive research, a lot of it under cover, with a number of nazi sympathetic groups in the U.S.

Crusaders and Zealots: Undercover Among Clandestine Groups

A collection of undercover reportages focused on ideological and religious groups generally hidden from the public eye. 
Part 1 of W.H. Brommage's expose titled, "The Blackbird Cruise." Published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"A Sale of Souls" - W.H. Brommage - San Francisco Chronicle (Blackbirding)

Brommage spent nearly six months aboard the Montserrat, documenting the voyage of a blackbirder leaving from San Francisco to recruit workers from the Gilbert Islands to work plantations in Guatemala on long-term contracts of indenture. The cover story for the journey was a shipment of coal picked up in British Columbia.  Unlike Melvin's series in the Argus, Brommage's account was full of nasty characters, shady to illegal business practices, abuse and danger. 
Photo of Merle Linda Wolin working undercover in the garment industry.

"Sweatshop" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

Merle Linda Wolin, then the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner's first and only reporter covering Los Angeles's Hispanic community, went undercover as an undocumented sweatshop worker from Portuguese-speaking Brazil, under the name Merlina de Novais.  Over five weeks, she worked three different jobs, even though she had minimal sewing skills.  She spent the better part of a year reporting the story, including the court proceedings over a suit she brought against one of the employers who refused to pay her. 
The freight train Ted Conover rode for his piece, "A Morning with Pops."

Ted Conover's "Rolling Nowhere"

Conover spent four months living as a tramp, riding the rails, which ultimately became his first book, Rolling Nowhere. Research for the project began for his senior thesis, while still an undergrad at Amherst College, which has awarded him an honorary degree.
Huffington Post article titled, "The Fool on the Hill." Written by Craig Unger.

Tim LaHaye, George Bush, and the Religious Right: Craig Unger's undercover assignment for Vanity Fair

Unger, undercover on a tour group led by Tim LaHaye (co-author, the Left Behind series), travels the Holy Land with some of LaHaye's followers.  His reporting examines the connections George W. Bush, then in office, had to Religious Right leaders, and their influence on policy.  The pieces also look at the everyday experience of believers - because Unger did not reveal that he was a reporter on assignment (though he did say he was a writer from New York), he was, he believes, spoken too more freely than he would have been with full disclosure.
Heading of the FIRST Chicago Daily Times article Nell Nelson wrote as part of her series, "City Slave Girls."

"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Times [aka "White Slave Girls" - New York World]

Charles Chapin, editor of The Chicago Times, hired Nell Cusak to investigate female working conditions in Chicago's factories.  This 21-part series (published under the byline Nell Nelson) was based on the author's experience working undercover in several Chicago factories.  Nelson named specific factories and managers she encountered, detailing the working conditions after spending only a brief time in each factory. 
ABC Nightline sends an 82-year-old grandmother undercover to expose Medicare fraud in McAllen, Texas.

Medicare and Medicaid Fraud

Medicare and Medicaid fraud have been perennial reporting topics since the 1960s, often requiring undercover techniques to amass specific details.
Examination of the meaning behind Lewis Hine's photographs.

Photographers John L. Spivak and Lewis Hine

Photographers John L. Spivak and Lewis Hine captured some of the greatest moments in undercover exposes of child labor during the early 1900's.
Dick Reavis poses as a carnival worker to expose—as he says—the truth about carnivals.

Dick J. Reavis

A collection of Dick J. Reavis' works pertaining to undercover journalism.
A new sheriff takes the place of John M. Short, who is suspended due to fraud.

Inside the Pasco County Sheriff's Department: A Special Report - St. Petersburg Times

In their Pulitzer Prize winning series, St. Petersburg Times writers Lucy Morgan and Jack Reed reveal the corruption within the Pasco County Sheriff's Department, starting with John M. Short.

The Ivory Trade

Reporters go undercover in attempts to expose the harsh reality of the Ivory Trade.

Undercover in North Korea

Reporters go undercover in North Korea where journalism is a terrifying task.
Article titled: The Lobby King Returns

Uncloaking the Lobbyists

 Reporter efforts to get inside the world of lobbyists, both on Capitol Hill and in the statehouses.

Shane Bauer

Shane Bauer is known for his daring undercover exposes, including his four-month turn as a private prison guard. The story, for Mother Jones,  won the reporting category in the National Magazine Awards of 2017.