Deception for Journalism's Sake: A Database

Deception for Journalism's Sake: A Database

These are examples of undercover reportage that were considered to have crossed ethical lines or that caused major legal wrangles.

Since the 1870s, journalists have been posing as patients or attendants to expose horrid conditions and treatment inside mental hospitals. Nellie Bly, incidentally, was not the first. 

Journalism that required costuming or even physical transformation by reporters reporting on racial, ethnic, gender or social groups not their own.

Undercover journalism has been the subject of heated discussions, especially since the late 1970s, and whenever an undercover sting causes a stir.

In efforts to get inside the fold, reporters have fellow-traveled with religious groups, posing as members or prospective recruits.

Reporters have worked as migrant laborers and shadowed undocumented workers crossing the border into the United States.

Reporters have worked as guards or gotten themselves arrested -- sometimes with the aid of authorities and sometimes without -- to investigate conditions inside prisons and jails.

Going undercover as volunteers or invited guests has gotten reporters an inside look at some U.S. political campaigns. So has shadowing the candidates in their off-hours.