"Campaign Desk: Stingers from Our Past" - Joel Meares - CJR

"Campaign Desk: Stingers from Our Past" - Joel Meares - CJR

James O'Keefe's Predecessors, Their Stings, and Their Ethics

by: Joel Meares | publication date: March 10, 2011 | Publication: Columbia Journalism Review |

". . . How exactly do we assess such a thing [undercover stings]? It’s not scientific. But Poynter’s Bob Steele has ventured in the past to provide a checklist of rather strict guidelines that must all be adhered to if deception is to be justified in journalism. These include: the information obtained being in the public interest; all alternative methods of obtaining the information being exhausted; the story being told fully; any harm prevented outweighing the harm caused by the deception; and all ethical and legal issues being closely considered. With those in mind, and the particulars of each case on hand, here’s our trip down an ethically murky memory lane. . . . "

Joel Meares revisits with CJR's take on some of the best known undercover stings of recent decades: The Chicago Sun-Times Mirage tavern expose, NBC Dateline's To Catch A Predator, Ken Silverstein's Turkmenistan sting, James O'Keefe's ACORN and Planned Parenthood exposes, Carmelo Abbate's gay priests of Rome on film, shuttered slaughterhouses, and Food Lion.

Copyrighted, used with permission.