Browse Primary Sources
"Inside: Secret America - 'Animal Undercover'" - Darren Foster and Mariana van Zeller - National Geographic Television
"Van Zeller and Foster first meet with covert animal activists who lead hidden camera exposés that have resulted in increased scrutiny of slaughterhouses, farms and research labs. While activists push for stricter enforcement of animal cruelty laws and increased criminal prosecutions against offenders, industry executives and lawmakers are mounting their own counterattack."
National Geographic Television Wednesday, July 31, 2013
"The Bureau applauds the Guardian's pursuit of NI, but undercover reporting is still important" - The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
". . .The Guardian has shown how reporters and investigators working for News International abandoned the principle of public interest and the need for prima facie evidence to justify its investigations. . ."
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism 2011-07-12
"A cheap way to deliver quick results as newspapers slug it out in hard times" - Phillip Knightley - The Independent
". . .The ethics about undercover reporting are far from clear. The journalist has to weigh the public interest of the story and the importance of what is being revealed, against the opprobrium of the technique and the victim's feeling, often shared by the reader, that they have been lied to and deceived. Donal MacIntyre, who went undercover many times for the BBC, said: 'The golden rule is this: as an undercover reporter you must never encourage anyone to say or do anything they would not otherwise do if you had not been there' . . ."
The Independent 2010-05-24
"Cryptic Message Triggers Fears Over Fate of Chinese Reporter's Investigative Team" - Jonathan Watts - The Guardian (UK)
". . .Wang Keqin, a pioneer of in-depth and undercover reporting over the past decade, caused alarm with a cryptic message on his Sina Weibo microblog about taboos and silencing speech. "Where political power burns books, it will also ultimately burn people also," he wrote.Associates said senior officials were targeting his newspaper – China Economic Times – and its investigative news department was being broken up. . ."
The Guardian 2011-07-18
"Cross in the Closet: Straight Christian Lives a Year as a Gay Man" - Susan Donaldson James - Good Morning America
". . .Kurek's reaction ate away at him, and he wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. So even though Kurek identifies as straight, he embarked on what one religious writer called 'spiritual espionage.' He would live like a gay man for a year. . ."
Good Morning America Thursday, October 11, 2012
". . .If journalists continue to demonstrate the questionable ethics contained in the Food Lion case above, perphaps 'meat handling' should become a course in journalism schools' curricula. Treating subjects of stories as 'meat' or 'grist' for the journalism mill is unfortunately becoming a too common practice. This, of course, is not to say that all or majority or even a large segment of journalists are behaving badly. But the taint from the few rubs off, and the odor is as foul as anything thr Food Lion reporters tried to uncover. . ." (IRE Journal's editors later apologized to ABC or the segment's producers for this piece. See "Apologies to ABC Producers" (http://dlib.nyu.edu/undercover/apologies-abc-producers-ire-journal-staff-ire-journal).
IRE Journal 1998-11-01
"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
". . .I seized upon the migrant story as a chance to flirt with new journalism. First, I had to gain access to the Long Island migrants without disturbing their routine. It would not be free of risk, or danger. So my wide and child packed off for the week to my parents' home in Connecticut. I hitchhiked to Riverhead in a t-shirt and jeans and was hired on as 'Bubba.' I had picked cotton in Tuscaloosa, shade-grown tobacco in Windsor, Conn., and thus was no stranger to dirt crops. . ."
The Quill 2006-01-01
"Waiting for the Eagle to Fly: With Nappy Chin, Hoppalong Geech, and Big Momma Rock Undercover" - Les Payne - Newsday
". . .As I entered the 17-man migrant camp the first day, I had primed myself to respond to my new name, 'Bubba.' I kept in mimd my briefing on how to function and stay alive. The instructions were given to me by an ex-migrant, a hefty man with a barrell belly and a rolling, gravel voice. With passionless, staccato cadence he told me: 'Drink wine wit' 'em. Shoot craps. Challenge 'em, tell 'em, look man, I'll knock your goddamm head off. Curse at 'em, all the time. But don't mess wit' their women, or you'll get your throat cut'. . ."
". . .As undercover operations have escalated the public has developed a sense of doubt over the intent of stings. There is a realisation that a sting predicated on the whim of a journalist gives the media too much power. Today, sting fatigue, both within the press and within the nation has slowly begun to creep in. . ."
". . .'Undercover investigative work has an honourable tradition and plays a vital role in exposing wrongdoing. It is part of an open society. But it risks being devalued if its use cannot be justified in the public interest,' the watchdog says. . ."
The Guardian 2007-05-18
". . .We wanted to see what steps were being taken to eradicate this. But more importantly, we needed to see if they were working. The only way we could find out what was really happening was to become a police officer - asking questions openly as a journalist would not have uncovered the truth. . ."
BBC News 2003-10-21
". . .Asia Press said it has set up a team of the 10 North Korean volunteers who risk their lives to cover news deep inside the country with hidden cameras and other digital devices. . ."
Agence France-Presse 2007-11-20
". . .The goal of a recruiter is to put young men and women in boot camp, or "butts on the bus" in the Navy vernacular. A WFAA-TV investigation found that recruiters supplied enlistees with hundreds of counterfeit high school diplomas and instructed them to lie about their academic background. At the time of our reports, the Armed Services wanted 95 percent of their enlistees to be high school graduates, because history shows high school grads have a better success rate in boot camp than those who don't complete high school. . ."
IRE Journal 2001-03-01
". . .For months, I'd been getting tips at KCBS describing the same scam: Wealthy Los Angeles doctors were somehow recruiting busloads of homeless patients to come to their clinics. Once there, the homeless patients were asked to fake illnesses, and in return would get paid an illegal kickback. The doctors could then charge bogus treatments to "Medi-Cal," the state's welfare program that provides healthcare for the poor. Sure, it was a great story, but the tips always lacked key information, such as how these homeless patients were recruited, and who was behind this scam. But my producer, Jennifer Cobb, and I were determined to document this amazing scam on undercover tape, start to finish. . ."
IRE Journal 2001-11-01
"Irresponsible Journalists are Jeopardizing Serious Investigations by the Press" - Christopher H. Pyle - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In this century, there have been two great eras in American investigative journalism. The first, in the early 1900's, was led by muckraking journalists Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair. Tarbell's massive history in the Standard Oil Company helped break up that monopoly. Sinclair's 'The Jungle,' which exposed unsanitary conditions in the Chicago meat-packing industry, led to the Pure Food and Drug Act. . ."
The Chronicle of Higher Education 2000-01-07
". . .The next who passed was a poor laborer. He came towards me. I was standing back and had not asked him for anything. He put five cents in my hand. 'God help you,' he said, in a low, sympathetic voice, as he reared on. . ."
New York World 1890-03-16
"The Media's Intrusion on Privacy: Protecting Investigative Journalism" - C. Thomas Dienes - The George Washington Law Review
". . .In 1904, the Muckraker journalist, Upton Sinclair, went undercover as a meat packer to expose conditions in the Chicago slaughterhouses. His findings, documented in The Jungle, provided impetus for adoption of federal food and drug legislation
The George Washington Law Review 1999-06-01
". . .Firstly there is the ethical conundrum of whether the ends justifies the means. If a journalist uncovers information that needs to be brought to the attention of the public, does that therefore justify the clandestine methods used to obtain that information? The concern is that the deceit on the part of the journalist sullies the critical information that is uncovered. Does a journalist dampen his credibility through the use of lies and chicanery? . . ."
PressEthic Blog 2005-10-02
"In their pursuit of newsworthy stories, television journalists often invade theprivacy of their news subjects. When they enter private property or reveal private facts about individuals, reporters tread a fine line that may ultimately subject them to trespass and other privacy torts."
Central Michigan University 1999-09-25
". . .Tim Lopes, 50, was a TV news reporter investigating a story about traffickers abusing drugs and minors in Brazil's favela, or slums. . .He was filming undercover when he was discovered to be a reporter. According to two suspects, Lopes was kidnapped, beaten, shot in the feet to keep him from escaping, and sentenced to death at a mock trial. . ."
IRE Journal 2003-03-01
". . .'There are lots of stories about social issues that are interesting,' Zekman says, 'but unless they have that investigative edge, I'm not interested' . . ."
IRE Journal 1989-07-01
"On the Media" - WNYC 2008-10-17
"On Wednesday, The Blaze posted a lengthy report looking at the ethics of undercover journalism. The comments on the post show a lively debate and wide-ranging views on what is considered ethical and acceptable in pursuit of a scoop. Plenty of readers felt the new NPR exposé justified any ethical misgivings involved in producing it. Others felt that those seeking truths should hold to higher standards. When undercover video like the NPR story first surfaces, we often look to see if there is raw video of the material used to produce the report as a basis for evaluating the accuracy of the representations made. And we decided to do that in this case. . ."
The Blaze 2011-03-10