Clusters

You're currently browsing the full list of clusters in the database. Clusters are groups of articles that we believe go together. There are several sorts of groupings, including those by subject, series, theme, and author. If you're looking for something particular, we recommend you use the search function at the top of the page.

The Times published two simultaneous reports of time spent undercover with US Nazi groups in 1937, before World War II. The reporters, brothers John C. and James J. Metcalfe, gained the trust of their "leaders," gaining information deliberately kept out of the public sphere by the group. The reports are accompanied by stories about events in Germany, nazi action in the US, and results of the Times reports themselves. Everything's published here in the original page layout, with multiple stories per entry.

John Ray Carlson is the pen name for Avedis Boghos Derounian.  His book, "Under Cover," and the American Mercury article "Our Fascist Enemies Within" were based on extensive research, a lot of it under cover, with a number of nazi sympathetic groups in the U.S.

A collection of undercover reportages focused on ideological and religious groups generally hidden from the public eye. 

Brommage spent nearly six months aboard the Montserrat, documenting the voyage of a blackbirder leaving from San Francisco to recruit workers from the Gilbert Islands to work plantations in Guatemala on long-term contracts of indenture. The cover story for the journey was a shipment of coal picked up in British Columbia.  Unlike Melvin's series in the Argus, Brommage's account was full of nasty characters, shady to illegal business practices, abuse and danger. 

Charles Chapin, editor of The Chicago Times, hired Nell Cusak to investigate female working conditions in Chicago's factories.  This 21-part series (published under the byline Nell Nelson) was based on the author's experience working undercover in several Chicago factories.  Nelson named specific factories and managers she encountered, detailing the working conditions after spending only a brief time in each factory. 

Merle Linda Wolin, then the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner's first and only reporter covering Los Angeles's Hispanic community, went undercover as an undocumented sweatshop worker from Portuguese-speaking Brazil, under the name Merlina de Novais.  Over five weeks, she worked three different jobs, even though she had minimal sewing skills.  She spent the better part of a year reporting the story, including the court proceedings over a suit she brought against one of the employers who refused to pay her. 

Conover spent four months living as a tramp, riding the rails, which ultimately became his first book, Rolling Nowhere. Research for the project began for his senior thesis, while still an undergrad at Amherst College, which has awarded him an honorary degree.

Unger, undercover on a tour group led by Tim LaHaye (co-author, the Left Behind series), travels the Holy Land with some of LaHaye's followers.  His reporting examines the connections George W. Bush, then in office, had to Religious Right leaders, and their influence on policy.  The pieces also look at the everyday experience of believers - because Unger did not reveal that he was a reporter on assignment (though he did say he was a writer from New York), he was, he believes, spoken too more freely than he would have been with full disclosure.

In January 1950, Marvel Cooke, the first black and only woman reporter on the staff of The New York Compass, did a reprise of a series she had done for The Crisis in 1935 with Ella Baker -- the first time this method of employing women emerged. Cooke, alone this time, posed as a domestic worker seeking employment by the hour or for a day on a Bronx street corner, where women gathered to find some kind of employment to find out what working through the "slave mart" system meant for those forced into it.

As part of an extensive Wall Street Journal report on dead-end jobs, Tony Horwitz posed as a worker in two poultry processing plants, in many ways the epitome of the "often-unseen harshness of low-wage work." The other two pieces in the Journal series, both available on the Pulitzer Prize site, do not involve undercover poses. Horwitz, however, has used the technique in previous efforts, both to investigate what was happening in the massage parlors of Fort Wayne, as a cub reporter in Indiana, here included, and to get around military restrictions during the Gulf War.

Gloria Steinem's two-part series chronicling the eleven days she spent undercover as a Bunny in Hugh Hefner's New York Playboy Club in 1963.

Cornelia Stratton Parker engaged with low-wage earning women in six different jobs so she could "see the world through their eyes" and for the time being, close her own. Her six-part series appeared in Harper's Magazine between June and December of 1921 and as a book, published by Harper Brothers, the following year.

After graduation from Mount Holyoke, Lillian Pettengill took jobs as a domestic servant to write about her experience in a four-part series for Everybody's Magazine, republished soon after as a book for Doubleday.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas is Ghana's most globally recognized investigative reporter. His work, often in disguise, focuses on exposing corruption.

The sisters-in-law van Vorst made the circuit as ostensible factory girls from the pickle factories of Pittsburgh to the shoe factories of Lynn, Massachuetts and on to the cotton mills of North Carolina. Originally published in a series in Everybody's Magazine in 1902, it became a book, published by Doubleday, the following year. Their starting point was an unapologetic sense of superiority over the wage earners they spent months impersonating, living and working among. Reviewers were quick to point to this approach as both a plus and a minus.

Dorr spent the better part of 1906 and 1907 under contract to Everybody's Magazine to witness and experience the feminization of the trades. She went undercover to work in the accounts division of a department store and as a commercial laundress and then in a number of factories across the country, including manufacturers of shirts, cakes and biscuits, and spun yarn. She struggled with writing for publication and was assigned a collaborator who overtook her command of the project.

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.

For the Nashville Tennessean in 1968, Nat Caldwell investigated Nashville's privately owned nursing homes in part by reporting above board and in part by posing as an elderly patient to spend a week at three of them.

Bly was one of the most visible and attention-getting exponents of undercover reporting -- "stunt" or "detective" reporting, as this precursor of full-scale investigative work was known in her day -- though by no means the first or the only.

Emmeline Pendennis, under the editorship of Charles Chapin at the New York Evening World, presented herself as Helen King, a young woman who had lost her bags and purse, to produce a series that explored what someone without means in New York City could do to get help.

Life Magazine outed a number of medical quacks in this expose, including Antone Dietemann, with a degree in sanitary engineering, was making on-the-spot diagnoses of illnesses "with a magic wand and an array of containers that hold various body tissues." A patient he diagnosed, Jackie Metcalfe, was actually an undercover agent for the state of California. Outside in a car, Life correspondent Joseph Bride made notes, hearing everything that transpired through a radio transmitter hidden in the agent's purse.

Frank Sutherland spends a month at Central State Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville, exposing its inadequate condition. The newspaper first determined there was an empty bed before having him admitted, so as not to take up a needed place, and Sutherland left without notice, but the newspaper alerted authorities on his departure, so no police time would be spent searching for him.

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

Reporters encounter or inhabit the lives of very hard-laboring others.

Among the most common of poses: journalists who elect to live as tramps, the homeless, or the abject poor.

Redpath, Olcott, Richardson and Thomson all went South for the New York Tribune and produced reporting undercover in the run-up to the Civil War.

Stephen Crane's "experiments" in luxury and misery for the New York Press. The poet John Berryman later described Crane's "misery" piece as one of his very finest.

Getschow lived and worked as an oil industry day laborer to expose conditions in the temporary "slave labor camps" throughout the Southwest.

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

Waste, fraud, graft, laxity, dilapidated conditions, corruption: Reporters have often used undercover tactics to investigate.

Journalists who infiltrated U.S.-based Nazi bunds, the Ku Klux Klan, the Gomorrah, and other secret societies and closed groups.

Reporters have presented as teachers or students to get an inside view of what goes on in schools and colleges.

Reporters have taken the undercover route from slaughterhouses and chicken- and pork-processing plants to fast-food chains and supermarkets to understand the system.

Ted Conover's work revolves around immersion forays into a variety of subject areas, including America's hoboes, illegal immigration, prisons, Aspen, Colorado, and on the world's iconic roads.

The broad outlines of what happened are well known: To verify reports from seventy different sources of unsanitary practices at Food Lion supermarkets, producers for the ABC newsmagazine Prime Time Live took jobs as supermarket workers and went to work with tiny concealed cameras turned on.

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

Original "Harvest of Shame" documentary (not undercover but highly influential in subsequent efforts that involved the 'worked as' technique) and a follow-up fifty years later, both by CBS News.

A six-part series involving reporters going undercover to work in the turpentine woods and as a motel maid as part of a deep examination of the underpaid worker in Georgia.

The series was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won a local Emmy award for WLS-TV. "Cashing in on crashes. "Thousands collect each year. They fake injuries and turn minor bump-and-bruise automobile accidents into an estimated $3 billion annual bonanza. "That is the accident swindle. It is masterminded by unscrupulous lawyers and ambulance chasers. They tell their clients how to fake pain. They are aided by crooked clinics and doctors eager to play along for profit.

Dale Brazao went undercover for the Toronto Star to investigate revolting, intolerable conditions at a local retirement home.