"The Mirage" - Pamela Zekman, Zay N. Smith - Chicago Sun Times



From the book jacket: "A tale of cold beer and hot graft, in which a team of investigative reporters ran a Chicago tavern to probe corruption-- and pulled off the greatest sting in the city's history." Mirage was the name of the pub and the focus of a 25-part series in the Chicago Sun-Times that, during the Pulitzer Prize deliberations of 1979, put undercover reporting under cloud.

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper, Book

Effects and Outcomes

"Mirage" was one of the most inventive and controversial of undercover journalism investigations ever attempted. Along with the journalistic controversy it sparked over its use of the method, the series, according to Zekman's and Smith's account in their book, The Mirage, led to the firing or suspension of more than a dozen city and state employees; a federal investigation of the City Hall inspection system; a crediting of the series by the FBI director for acting as a "stimulant" that caused many shakedown victims to come forward with new information; the creation by the then city mayor of a new office of professional review to investigate wrongdoing; a special appeal to city business owners from the mayor to ask for help for the new office; a new mayor's committee to revise the city's building code; and internal investigations at several city agencies.

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