Deception For Journalism's Sake: A Database
This collaboration with NYU Libraries collects many decades of high-impact, sometimes controversial, mostly U.S.-generated journalism that used undercover techniques. It grows out of the research for Undercover Reporting: The Truth About Deception (Northwestern University Press, 2012), which argues that much of the valuable journalism since before the U.S. Civil War has emerged from investigations that employed subterfuge to expose wrong. It asserts that undercover work, though sometimes criticized as deceptive or unethical, embodies a central tenet of good reporting--to extract significant information or expose hard-to-penetrate institutions or social situations that deserve the public's attention. The site, designed as a resource for scholars, student researchers and journalists, collects some of the best investigative work going back almost two centuries.
The material has been gathered into reports, highlighting award-winning series, exemplary proponents of the practice or recurring themes (such as prison infiltrations, shadowing migrants, work, and gender, class or ethnic impersonation and dozens more.) Included are not only examples of the most outstanding work but also the most serious lapses. There are examples of controversies over the practice, such as those generated by hidden camera investigations, and of the scholarly, legal and journalistic debates that followed. Many excellent digital collections still cover only recent decades so retrieval of much of this material has been difficult, much of it still accessible solely on microfilm.
Wherever possible, entries provide full citations, summaries, excerpts, outcomes and a pdf or direct link to the story, along with related items worth a look. Where direct access to the material is not possible or has been restricted, the citations should help with archival access.
The loading continues with hopes to deepen and internationalize the collection, so please feel free to suggest new material and to alert us to errors or broken links via firstname.lastname@example.org.
This site contains some copyrighted material, the use of which—we believe—constitutes a 'fair use,' as provided in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. We are making such material available in order to provide valuable investigative journalistic documents to media students, scholars, researchers and journalists, without profit to those involved.
We respect the intellectual property rights of others. If you believe we have published material that infringes your copyright, we will address your concerns. Please refer to NYU's Copyright & Fair Use page, with contact information, to be found at http://www.nyu.edu/footer/copyright-and-fair-use.html.
Notice to Users The copyright status for each article in the database is included at the bottom of the article entry. A glossary of relevant copyright categories and their meanings can be found below. Third party materials on this site are provided for personal, educational, or research purposes, and may be subject to copyright. If you wish to use copyrighted material for your own purposes, you are responsible for determining and satisfying any rights restrictions, including obtaining any necessary rights from the copyright owner.
Public domain: Material that is not or no longer subject to copyright restrictions, and thus falls in the public domain. No known rights restrictions. We are unaware of any restrictions on the use of this material. It is the responsibility of the user to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions if using this material outside the scope of Fair Use, 17 USC § 107 or other copyright exception.
Copyrighted: This material is protected by copyright and used without express permission, under Fair Use. It is the responsibility of the user to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions if using this material outside the scope of Fair Use, 17 USC § 107 or other copyright exception.
Copyrighted, used with permission: This material is protected by copyright and used with the permission of the rights holder. It is the responsibility of the user to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions if using this material outside the scope of Fair Use, 17 USC § 107 or other copyright exception.
Access to online material: The database provides access to online material by linking to an outside source. Information on the exact copyright status of the material may be found or requested at the original source.
Restricted access to online material: The database links to online material at an outside source, that gives restricted access to users. This means that a fee might be charged for access to this source, or that is only accessible to subscribers or other members. More information should be found or requested at the original source. Users affiliated with universities or other research institutions may have institutional access to resources on licensed platforms.