"To Catch A Predator" - Chris Hansen - NBC Dateline

Reportage

Description

Dateline NBC ran a controversial, popular series of hidden camera stings across the country exposing (and, eventually, facilitating the arrest of) adult men who solicit sex with minors online. NBC paid an advocate group called Perverted Justice to set up "decoy" meetings with men who initiated sexual conversations with people posing as underage girls and boys. The men would show up at a house filled with NBC cameras, host Chris Hansen, and, as the series progressed, decoy actresses and police waiting outside. Hansen would confront the man with the transcripts of chat conversations leading up to the meeting. Once the police began to collaborate with the Perverted Justice stings, the men would walk outside only to be immediately arrested.

Reporters

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Television, Internet

Effects and Outcomes

The show, which was a huge ratings success for NBC, was subject to questioning and criticism which became only more intense after the November 2006 suicide of a Texas county DA Louis Conradt, Jr. Conradt was confronted by police officers while the Dateline crew waited outside his home, and he shot himself in front of the officers. The show received additional criticism for its collaboration with Perverted Justice, who were paid for their work with Dateline, for its collaboration with law enforcement officials, and for possibly exaggerating the threat of sexual predation online. A commonly repeated question of the series asked whether it was in the business of reporting the news or creating it.

Articles, Books, Video/Film