Browse Primary Sources
"Lying to Tell the Truth: Journalists and the Social Context of Deception" - Seow Ting Lee - Mass Communication & Society
"Deception is an illusive and difficult issue. The inverse of deception is truthfulness, which is perhaps the closest to a universal value that we have. Deception is objectionable, but this moral outlook is complicated by the systematic nature of deception in human relationships, from little white lies in social intercourse to the far more capacious deception in international relations or warfare. . ."
Mass Communication and Society 2004-01-01
". . .In December, a North Carolina jury decided that two ''Prime Time Live'' producers went too far in 1992 when they lied on applications and obtained jobs in the back rooms of Food Lion supermarkets. The resulting program hurt Food Lion's bottom line, and ABC News was hit with $5.5 million in punitive damages. The consequences of the decision, which ABC is appealing, will assuredly be felt in future television exposes or the lack of them. . ."
The New York Times 1997-03-09
"Should journalists lie, as they pursue the noble goal of informing the public? Put more charitably, if the word "lying" is too harsh, should journalists masquerade as meat packers in a supermarket to get a story, engage in a bit of clever misrepresentation and bluffing to trick a source, use "lipstick" cameras hidden in wigs and tiny microphones pinned to brassieres to succeed in undercover reporting, produce (in the words of one NPR reporters) "cockamamie cover stories" to protect an exclusive? In other words, in an industry theoretically still devoted to truth-telling, can deception, in whatever guise, be regarded as an acceptable way of getting the news? . . ."
The Washington Post 1997-03-24
"Is deception by a journalist ever justifiable? That was the question raised by ABC's solemn attempt at self-justification last Wednesday night. ''Primetime Live'' and a special 90-minute panel debate moderated by Ted Koppel focused on Food Lion v. ABC, the case in which a North Carolina jury awarded the Food Lion supermarket chain $5.5 million in punitive damages because ''Primetime Live'' producers lied to get jobs at the supermarkets to show bad food handling practices. . ."
The New York Times 1997-02-17
"Secrets and Lies: News Media and Law Enforcement Use of Deception as an Investigative Tool" - Bernard W. Bell - University of Pittsburgh Law Review
". . .Arguably, courts should tolerate law enforcement intrusions more readily than media intrusions because identifying and punishing criminals is more important than informing the public-in other words, law enforcement's mission should take precedence over the press's. Thus, the key distinction between press and law enforcement undercover operations is the difference in their missions, not, as I will later suggest, the difference in the types of public control over the respective institutions. For example, courts might show less solicitude toward government use of undercover techniques whengovernment agencies employ such techniques to protect the government's proprietary interests. Courts might entertain more serious reservations about approving the use of undercover techniques to identify inefficient or untrustworthy employees than to uncover violations of criminal law. If so, because government, whether pursuing law enforcement or its own proprietary interests, is subject to popular control, only the heightened valuation of the government's mission, not the existence of greater control, could justify the favoring of law enforcement over the press. . ."
University of Pittsburgh Law Review 1999-05-01
"Deception in Medical and Behavioral Research: Is It Ever Acceptable?" - Dave Wendler - The Milbank Quarterly
". . .For this reason, and in spite of the widespread unanimity regarding the importance of subject autonomy, the question remains, is subject deception in research ever ethically acceptable. . .?"
The Milbank Quarterly 1996-01-01
"Deception, by which we mean words or conduct intended to induce false beliefs in others, plays a complex role in human life. Well-socialized people revere honesty and disapprove of lying and other forms of deception. At the same time, well-socialized people engage in deception, regularly and skillfully, not only for altruistic reasons, but also to gain advantages over others."
Law and Philosophy 2003-09-01
"Establishing constitutional malice for defamation and privacy/false light claims when hidden cameras and deception are used by the newsgatherer" - David A. Elder, Neville L. Johnson and Brian A. Rishwain - Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review
". . .A hidden camera story is essentially a 'grainy little morality play,' edited to heighten the entertainment value, where journalists go undercover to mythologize their work by becoming protagonists, modern, 'folk heroes' who ferret out wrongdoing as the superheroes of pop culture. . ."
Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review 2002-04-15
"In journalism, with its emphasis on pursuing and publishing the truth, deception strikes at the heart of the profession. Truth telling, the inverse of deception, is a universal value and a fundamental given in the communications field. Journalists are expected to tell the truth, but in what appears to be a paradox, they may have to deceive to get the truth."
Journal of Mass Media Ethics 2005-01-01
"Defining and Analyzing Journalistic Deception" - Deni Elliott and Charles Culver - Journal of Mass Media Ethics
"Deception has been a tool of effective and award-winning reporting since 100 years ago when Nellie Bly went undercover to expose corruption in industry and government. It has also been a practice that has created additional distrust for journalists, who are already suffering from credibility problems."
Journal of Mass Media Ethics 1991-01-01
"The Courant staffers who showed up at real-estate offices pretended to be potential home buyers, but they were not. They used altered names, and provided other false information that masked their identities as reporters. In short, they didn't tell the truth. "In this case, was that so very wrong? Doesn't the result justify the falsehoods? . . . I say the lying was unjustified. It's not easy, or pleasant, to find fault with what The Courant did. But even when the goals are noble, and the results are positive for the community, I don't think journalists should lie."
Hartford Courant 1989-06-04
"James Reston helped to define the issue when he reportedly drew a distinction between 'pretense' and 'deception' at the [Pulitzer] board meeting. Pretense, in this scheme is a passive act: the reporter allows someone to draw the wrong conclusion about who he is or what he knows. Deception, however, is active; the reporter intends to mislead. 'It's biblical, man,' says [Ben] Bradlee of the Post. 'How can newspapers fight for honesy and integrity when they themslevse are less than honest in getting a story? Would you want a cop to pose as a newspaperman?' Other board members, however, admit that they have allowed reporters to conceal their identities in the past, and most reserve the right to do so in the future."
Columbia Journalism Review 1979-07-01
A reporter for the Detroit News poses as a Michigan congressman to prove how lax security is at a treaty-signing ceremony on the White House lawn.A reporter for the Los Angeles Times poses as a graduate student in psychology working in a state mental hospital to expose conditions there.A reporter for the Wall Street Journal works three weeks on an assembly line in a large plant to investigate charges that the company routinely violates labor practicesAre these unethical activities? ...
Los Angeles Times 1979-09-20