prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Hidden Camera Take Down

Posted by prof e on March 10, 2011

Hidden cameras and microphones date back to the earliest days of radio and TV. Candid Camera caught unsuspecting people reacting to dramatic or humorous situations created by the show’s producers. After the initial shock and surprise wore off, the unwitting victims were asked to sign a talent release thus allowing the producers to put them on the air. Their 15 minutes of fame seemed like a reasonable reward for a few minutes of awkward discomfort.

In recent years the popular series Prime Time Live and Eye to Eye with Connie Chung often used hidden cameras and set-ups to catch people behaving badly. Those who advocate for hard-hitting investigative journalism often argue that deception and hidden cameras/microphones are necessary tools to collect the kind of evidence that will “bust a story wide open.” Even 60 Minutes has resorted to hidden cameras and most of us are very familiar with the controversial sting operations conducted by Chris Hansen for his To Catch a Predator series.

The latest incarnation of gotcha journalism is pushing the envelope of what can be called journalism. At the head of the pack is James O’Keefe. O’Keefe rose to notoriety by posing as a pimp–along-side his assistant posing as a prostitute–to expose the seemly underbelly of Acorn. Acorn, an affiliation of community organizations with ties to Obama, has since lost its federal funding.

Because of recent events the same fate may await NPR and PBS. Just this week O’Keefe struck again by framing NPR fund-raising executive Ron Schiller. In a hidden-camera interview, Schiller is heard venting about conservatives, the tea party, and at one point proclaiming that NPR would be better off without federal funding. This embarrassment, close on the heals of the Juan Williams firing a few months ago, has resulted in the firing of NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation to Ron). The bad news couldn’t come at a worse time as congress is currently debating whether to de-fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, i.e. PBS and NPR.

Another recent sting operation was conducted by the anti-abortion group Live Action. Planned Parenthood employees were caught on camera giving advice on how to get around restrictions for treating underage prostitutes. At the very least it appears that the employees were turning a blind eye to the sexual exploitation of minors. The uproar continues to dog Planned Parenthood and may jeopardize its funding as well.

But conservative operatives aren’t the only ones going after their opponents using questionable tactics. Just two weeks ago Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was “punked” by Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy pretending to be a wealthy Republican donor. The phone conversation, which raised questions about Gov. Walkers true intentions, is available on YouTube for anyone who wants to draw his own conclusions.

Credible news organizations and journalistic entities, e.g. the Society of Professional Journalists, have very specific policies about deception and use of hidden microphones and cameras. According to the SPJ code of ethics, the examples above violate the very basic principles of journalism and compromise the integrity of the craft. Kevin Z. Smith, SPJ ethics committee chairman, said “This tactic and the deception used to gain this information violate the highest levels of journalism ethics.” Smith continued, “To lie to a source about your identity and then to bait that source into making comments that are inflammatory is inexcusable and has no place in journalism.”

What do you think…do these tactics cross the line and call into question the integrity of the journalists themselves? Or, are these tactics necessary to expose wrongdoing?

For a rather lengthy discussion of the ethics of hidden cameras, see Gotcha!

42 Responses to “Hidden Camera Take Down”

  1. Brittny Balderston said

    I’m on the line with this discussion. At one end of the spectrum, I think it’s perfectly fine to catch people doing wrong. Maybe they should have their own integrity and not act like idiots all the time. At the other end, I also think that if I were caught on camera doing something childish then I’d probably feel like crap. I think hidden cameras allow viewers to know the truth, and that’s scary.

  2. Frankie said

    NPR pretty much had its hands tied on this one. The public backlash on the right would have been more severe had the CEO along with the dude caught on tape not been ousted. The guy came across like a complete pansy Liberal and the right wing dominated mainstream media loves to use that tag. This was the culmination of management blunders that stem from the mishandled Williams event months ago. While the ambush tactic seemed to reveal a kernel of truth in this particular sting, it’s also being cleverly used to eliminate subversive voices, which is dangerous. You’ll see a lot more gutless people thinking it’s more important to self-monitor their speech and wear too many different hats just to avoid making waves. More and more people who act and think like PR robots instead of being genuine about their attitudes and beliefs is likely to happen.

    It would be a shame if our society no longer funded publicly owned media resources like NPR and PBS. I think de-funding entities like NPR and PBS would sort of mark the informal end to our fourth estate of journalism and an end to educational broadcasting whose aim is to encourage lifelong learning. This is a social contract and American democracy issue in my mind. Another side of this is the idea that NPR and PBS are relics whose haydays have long since past. There are plenty who will argue the needless government subsidy angle.

    My main question is why are the middle-class siting back and watching their few remaining resources for exerting democratic power disappear? The media has long been dominated by center-right and far right voices, but it’s reached an all time high in this country. It’s pretty disturbing and no one really seems to be paying attention. I understand now why so many zombie movies are made in this country. It’s a perfect metaphor.

  3. Shilay Willis said

    I think that it is perfectly fine to catch someone doing something wrong. It happens everyday, but the fact that you broadcast it for everyone to see and hear is quite disturbing. Not everything should be shared with the public and especially if it isn’t for this person’s “15 minutes of fame”. It is unreasonable to think that you can’t trust anyone anywhere and that there are hidden cameras everywhere. One has a right to know what he is getting in to. If we should catch anyone doing anything wrong it should be by the old fashion way of seeing with your eyes and not with your camera. If seeing it yourself isn’t credible enough then how credible is it to trick someone into saying something they normally wouldn’t to a person or doing something they normally wouldn’t with certain people around.

  4. Alyssa Fryberger said

    I am not sure what I think about hidden cameras or lying about one’s identity or situation in order to get a story and expose wrongdoing. On one side if someone is doing something that is wrong they deserve to be caught and as most people don’t do such things in public then a hidden camera or dishonest identity is a very good way to catch people. I am reminded about the story of Elizabeth Cochrane who created a false persona in order to see things that would otherwise not have been available to see and because of it she was able to expose a very wrong situation. There were no cameras because they didn’t exist yet but if someone did the same thing today they would probably have had a hidden camera. These recent situations are really no different than that except that we have better technology. On the other hand I am not comfortable with the idea that there are people with hidden cameras filming what I am doing and thus it is probably not right to go and video someone and share that video on the news for everyone to see. I think that probably the difference would come down to whether something is a crime or just an embarrassing secret. We should be able to use this type of stuff in order to prosecute a criminal but not to be able to tell all the secrets about everyone’s personal lives.
    On a side note I do wonder why Vivian Schiller was fired when it was Ron Schiller who made the inappropriate remarks.

  5. Dominick Ledezma said

    The thing about hidden cameras is that instead of exposing the true reality a lot of times they simply create another alternate one that’s just as hard to sort out. One should never believe everything they “see”, whether it’s on camera or not. That notion may sound ignorant, but in this day in age plenty of things can be doctored up so I remain vigilant of what I take in concerning people being “caught on camera” doing something.

    I do think in some situations a hidden camera can be a useful tool however, case in point people who videotape those that watch their kids. I can understand that totally. When it comes to say, some of the situations we’re seeing unfold with rogue idiots who go out and film an entity like NPR, (who in all fairness is truly about as balanced as humanly possible when it comes to their news coverage), I just think they’re doing themselves a huge dis-service. If one really aims to do so they can create any reality they want to justify on camera. That doesn’t make it true however.

    So I guess in short, hidden cameras used to prove someone is red handed guilty of a serious crime, sort of okay. Hidden cameras used by some slack jawed miscreant to invade the privacy of honest people, very bad.

  6. Jason Larson said

    Not so sure about the idea of hidden cams creating alternate realities. That seems to set up a landscape for false dichotomy where there is supposedly a difference between subjective truths and objective truths. This type of thinking smacks of the post-modernist view of the world, as if every opinion in the world has merit. Yes, opinions are like butts, everyone has one, but some are smellier than others. And there are many opinions floating in the public sphere that have been thoroughly discredited, but you can hardly discover that from much of today’s journalism. The human being, at least in this stage of evolution, is only capable of experiencing one reality, but this isn’t what most people are trained to think.

    What O’keefe and Murphy accomplished with their stings is merely exposure and attachment to a marketable theme for what they “uncovered.” The exposure of character attributes, unvarnished thoughts, and perhaps derisive viewpoints that undoubtedly run counter to some other views is the primary intention. In other words, O’keefe and Murphy had a particular audience in mind when they set up their stings. They created situations which are almost guaranteed to elicit the sort of responses and behaviors from targets that particular audiences will react to. What they’re really after is the affect it will have on their relative audiences. It’s similar to how producers put together reality show casts. Producers screen reality show candidates for personality traits that might lead to clashes, and often, these are easy ratings bets to make. Consider any MTV season of The Real World as an example. The likelihood that the captured interactions between people thrust into precarious scenarios will provide captivating footage for brain-dead audiences is a given. This is no different than what you see on any given news channel but with subtle variation, marking the niche differences in audience viewership.

    Aside from this, I think there is a facet to traditional journalism that is much more troublesome than shady sting ops which expose personal biases and poor behaviors people are already aware of. This facet of journalistic practice favors a type of academic neutrality that many journalists hide behind when covering controversial topics. This useless type of neutrality pertains to the way discourse is presented on volatile issues ranging from funding for govt. employee compensation programs, the status of climate change debate, and even whether or not to interfere in middle-eastern circumstance. What we see on most on the 24 hour news channels is pseudo-neutrality, especially when a mobilized public might be detrimental to the power exertions of the Exceptionalists/Elitists who really run the country and shape the news. Yes, I am one of those who believe most of what you read or watch in the news is intentionally designed to manipulate rather than inform. For example, two pundits on TV news representing opposing claims as to the nature or validity of a particular set of observations are really presented to stimulate inaction. Arguments are stifled by limited column space or segment time to the purpose of creating a perceptual, but false, stalemate on debates that have actually produced winning arguments. For the viewer, it may appear that there are two valid sides to an argument, but what they have really been presented with are the simple contrary points for a given discussion. If taken to their logical ends, much of the punditry could be defeated, and many of the recycled arguments hyped in mainstream journalism would have disappeared long ago.

  7. Kristin Moe said

    The thought of hidden cameras being every where one may turn is a bit of a scary thought. I believe that hidden cameras can do a lot of good, but also a lot of bad. When hidden cameras are built to find someone doing wrong I suppose it is acceptable, however the thought of always being watched is a bit frightening. I do not believe that hidden cameras are completely necessary simply because I think that if someone does wrong, they should be caught by the eye of another. Cameras capture everything, and to me that is not necessary. Although having hidden cameras put around certain places, such as an office, may just frighten people some believe it should be done. A time when I think a hidden camera is acceptable is on traffic lights. Hidden cameras are placed on some traffic lights to capture people doing wrong in the way that they are breaking the law. I believe that traffic violations cannot always be captured with the naked eye; however the person that broke the law should still have to pay for it. Overall hidden cameras may not be necessary in an office, but it is a great idea when it comes to traffic.

  8. Kenny Norman MCCNM 101 said

    Journalism was never meant to please everyone.Journalism’s job is to report on an issue which the journalist sees as worthy for the public to know,whether wrong or right.If extreme tactics are used,such as hidden cameras and secret recordings,to get viable information that couldn’t be gained otherwise,then it shouldn’t be deemed dishonest.Although I take this position there are a few lines which shouldn’t be crossed just to gain a story for strictly news.At times journalist go out of thier way to expose someone or something,without any merit or desire to aid the public.

  9. Anna MCCNM 101 said

    First I would like to comment to Frankie. I was not aware that it was a commonly known fact that media is dominated by the right-wing. I actually was of the opinion that most media is dominated by Liberals, with a major exception being Fox News, which proclaims to be unbiased, yet has very conservative commentators such as Bill O’Rielly and Glen Beck. However, beyond Fox, I would say that most major news organizations are considered to be at least somewhat Liberal. Just look at Ted Turner. Research the political views shared by him and his wife, it may suprise you. However, I will agree with you that I think it is a shame that more citizens follow the zombie mold by not demanding thier media outlets to serve without bias, and inform the public of all sides of the issue as best as possible. The same goes for our politicians for that matter. We are a society that will lose our democracy if we do not do a better job of keeping our representatives in check by looking at all sides of the issue before making an informed decision or vote.

    In commentary to the topic at hand, of whether journalists should be allowed to use any means neccessary to obtain information that otherwise would be off-limits to them? I believe that when our forefathers wrote the First Amendment, they wrote it with the intention of protecting just such methods, although not present in their day. It was known that there might be many instances in which the press might have to push the limits to inform the public of information that others would wish to keep private. For this very reason, the press was given freedom without limitation as long as the issue was of importance to the people.

    When journalists assist law enforcement in stings such as the “To Catch A Predator” series, they are serving the public by informing citizens of how epidemic the issue is. There is certainly a place in society for this information, and showing it candidly as it is presented when hidden cameras are used brings it home in a way that a newspaper article can not.

    When hidden cameras and microphones are used to invade the privacy of an individual who is not committing a crime or possessing information vitally important to the public, such as cases of celebrity journalism, I think it is unfortunate. However, it is up to the consumers to give the media a market for this type of journalism. Without public interest, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    As technology advances, small devices capable of recording video and sound are becoming an everyday tool used readily by the masses to record life experiences and share them with family, friends, and the world. Criminals have been caught leaving the scene of the crime by witnesses with camera phones even when security cameras have failed. As a society, we are going to have to accept that privacy was not a right guaranteed to you, and that the more networked we become, the less privacy we will have. Knowing that, at any given moment, the person seated in front of your desk could be recording you, should help keep businesses, politicians, and people in general honest. Not telling everyone that you come across that you are a journalist is no more unethical than an individual going to a restaurant not informing the staff that they blog about food. In some ways, we are all journalists, and its good for us to keep this in mind, because truly, you no longer know who might be watching.

  10. Frankie MCCNM 10001 said

    Anna, thank you for making comment, I’m happy to explain myself.

    [[I was not aware that it was a commonly known fact that media is dominated by the right-wing.]]

    You’re correct — it’s not commonly known fact because most people don’t possess the critical thinking skills needed to consider this view. Be clear that I never claimed it to be a “common fact,” but rather an assertion based on observation and personally attained evidence. You are the one who believes it to be a common fact that the mainstream media exudes a dominant Liberal bias. Your Ted Turner and Fox News juxtaposition sounds like the type of factual cherry picking Glen Beck uses to hypnotize his audiences, and it doesn’t make any sense. Be careful of falling-in to the common construction of how the media functions in our country. The myth that there are Liberal voices dominating the media landscape is the right-winger’s passive way of peeing on your leg and telling you it’s raining. In other words, the Liberal media’s only aim is to convert the U.S. citizenry into Communist Pinko’s, Marxist Socialists — or God forbid — Radical Islamists, right? At least that’s the most common recurring theme in any mainstream media outlet one considers, regardless of whether one favors Fox News, MSNBC, or NPR as it were. You’ll find more tempered and thoroughly informed perspectives from one to the next but they all come at the news from a relatively similar starting point – a magical idea of what it is to be American. They all tap-in to a fairly narrow set of beliefs about what this country was intended to be.

    For example, you somewhat romanticized the beloved forefathers for their brilliant crafting of the constitution. I wonder if you realize that an AMENDMENT means that what was initially outlined or intended in the construction of the U.S. Constitution wasn’t adequate, and therefore needed to be AMENDED. This kind of reminds me of those tea-party types who lament our country’s misreading and abandonment of principles set forth in the document, yet who have very little clue of its history and very narrow interpretations of only the amendments they like.

    Anyhow, the word Liberal is a type of priming mechanism (used in a Pavlovian sense) to trigger an automatic resistance to any idea existing outside an orthodox American Conservative paradigm. Historically, the buzzword Liberal replaces Communist in the current lexicon of the right. But before the word Liberal was used in the media to castigate ideas and opinions counter to the Power Elite’s desired notions of traditional Americanism, Communism was the preferred label for supposed invading threats to Capitalism. Much of that type of thinking stems from the propaganda studies pioneered by a man named Harold Lasswell, who documented Nazi forms of propaganda, which he developed into social theories which later were used by the U.S. government to craft its own brand of propaganda. But you’ll have to do some thinking of your own regarding these claims, as I’m not trying to convince you of anything.

    And, if you wish to be a mere fact collector, then examine only the ratings or market penetration data for media sources labeled either Liberal or Conservative. The number of commercial and popular Conservative voices VS Liberal ones is far greater and indisputable, and the Conservative viewpoint rules the roost in terms of audience capture and annual ad revenue earnings, making moderate-right to far-right voices the most pervasive in what’s typically characterized as “mainstream media.” This is counting television and radio broadcasting statistics alone. Just because FOX NEWS labels everything subversive as part of the “Liberal Agenda” doesn’t make it so.

    The idea that the mainstream media caters primarily to the right-wing is intrinsic to the predominant and awkwardly termed Judeo-Christian population of the U.S, wherefore messages framed within a moderate to fundamental Conservative paradox more likely resonate with the broader population, even when the messages are absurd. Whether media consumers classify themselves as having seemingly modest or extreme viewpoints on anything from political to religious to social issues, it makes perfect sense that media use contexts and linguistic constructs relevant to them. The idea here is not to induce anything other than conventional wisdom for message contemplation. This imposes ethnocentricity on much of the discourse in our media.

    Here’s an example of this general idea offered in the type of speech used by Newt Gingrich, then splattered all over the media, referring to the fears he has for his grandchildren’s experience of our country in the future:

    [[ “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”]]

    Now unless you’re able to decipher the message from the media paradigm mentioned before, this message makes no sense and should be dismissed out of hand.

    It doesn’t matter whether you read the NYT, watch Fox News, listen to NPR, or laugh at Conservatives with Jon Stuart, most of the media material we come across in the U.S. elude to semi-religious or extremely religious underpinnings, with an inherent bias toward a Capitalistic implementation of democracy. You and I certainly agree there’s a bias in the media, but I’m not the one who needs to do research in order to understand it.

  11. Tyler Shomaker said

    This topic of hidden cameras seems very deceitful and dishonest to those who have it used on. If the intentions of the reporter is only to reveal negative news and exploit a subject then that is what the reporter will find. I have read a few articles that the whole interview with the NPR executive was taken out of context and blown out of proportions. Here is a link . Journalism has seen some dark days with Yellow Journalism as our book has stated and this seems to be the next hit that news reporting will take because of its questionable tactics. The level of professionalism should be kept as high priority and journalism has no room for future development in this aspect.

  12. Melissa Gomez said

    I believe that if your caught during a wrongful act than you should have to face the consequences that follow. I also think that everyone lies and in lying we all present the public or ourselfs with an image of what is right and wrong and what we believe a good person is suppose to be. If we set up hidden cameras every where than we are setting ourself up for disappointment in our peers and ourselves.

  13. Anna MCCNM 101 said

    Frankie, thank you for responding to my post. I am sorry if I insinuated words that you did not intend when I referred to “commonly” accepted beliefs, when you were merely asserting your opinion. No offense was intended certainly.

    I myself do not hold it as FACT that the media is biased one way or another, it is simply a matter of public opinion. One that you believe is constructed because of the people’s lack of critical thinking skills, which I certainly hope is incorrect. Although we both agree that the American public has become quite lax, I doubt it is because they lack the intelligence, they are simply too comfortable. However, I feel that the liberal bias of the media became the pronounced opinion of the public after the Obama/McCain race due to some pretty inarguably biased coverage. As to why the coverage was biased? Could be that Obama was just a sexier candidate than McCain and his news sold better, or it could have been left-wing influence. I think you and I both agree that the world seems to be biased in favor of the mighty dollar above religious, social, or political beliefs.

    Aside from that, your post seemed focused on the idea of what it is to be American. I am interested in YOUR definition of what it means to be American. You referred to me as having a somewhat romantic viewpoint of the AMERICAN DREAM, and what exactly that defines. Let me correct you, I am a DIEHARD romantic when it comes to patriotism. Something I sadly feel is lacking in this country. What does being American mean to me personally? Does it mean white, Christian, middle-class family, with 2.2 kids and a white picket fence? No. Trying to define what I feel to be American would not include apple pie or baseball, but I think you can define the American Dream by looking at a very pivotal moment in US history, the American Civil War. Regardless of controversial spins, at the heart of the war was one of the “superior” race standing up for the “lower” race, embracing equality and freedom, without benefit of financial gain, or consideration of the high price paid. What America means to me personally is an ideology of being the “good guys.” We are a group of people with honest intentions trying to find the best way to be as free as we can while still looking out for the safety and security of the people. I know that the many would debate whether America is still the good guys, well, I say that America isn’t a piece of land, nor is America congress, it is the people that make us America, and I am not ready to count Americans out yet.

    It seems your beef with mainstream media, is that they assume their audience to be the white Christians we spoke of earlier, and that this breeds bias. Well, that may simply be a matter of audience research rather than control tactics. Statistically, the mainstream consumer has typically been that average white American, but as that demographic changes, so will your coverage, so will your programming, it is a circle that flows around marketability = money.
    You quoted Gingrich, an interesting choice to show media bias in my opinion, as Newt has had his day under the media’s axe. However, I do feel that Gingrich, as much as I hate to say this, expresses an opinion that is shared by many which is why you may have seen it “splattered” all over the media. As a mother of five children myself, I am afraid of any “radical” beliefs that disrupt the solidarity of the American people. Whether it be Christian fanatics beating on homosexuals or Islamic extremists calling for the death of those with differing beliefs, they are all scary to me. Are they glamorized by the media causing even wider gaps? Hey, Yellow Journalism isn’t just a page in history.

    Americans need to be reminded that when the phrase “One Nation Under God” was written, I personally do not feel that one particular God was intended or even that the existence of God was needed to give the phrase power, rather more a statement of solidarity of the people to stand together tall and proud under the sky above us to defeat our enemies and fight for our rights. (Told you I was a DIEHARD) The only way to ensure this to happen is by acting as constant watchdogs over those in power to keep greed from being the motivation of this country, whether capitalistic or not.

    To tie this all back in to the discussion at hand, the only way the people can act as watchdogs over those in power is to have an unbiased media that reports facts, saves the opinions for the editorials, and is not itself controlled by the mighty dollar.

    Thanks Frankie, and your suggestions regarding propaganda are interesting. I have always been interested in wartime propaganda and will enjoy your suggested reading.

  14. Sarah Matott said

    Call me a dirty republican, but…I see nothing wrong with the use of a hidden camera, NPR should’ve been on their toes. (Kidding) Although, it’s not a conventional way of reporting a news story,, it is effective at times. However,, both the far right and far left, in my opinion has taken this far and beyond its importance.

  15. Frankie said

    Anna,thanks for responding. I hadn’t seen your reply til this day. You clearly think deeply about these sorts of things and I respect that. Because of different motivations, we’ll only end up talking past one another. But I’ll leave you with this:

    Patriotism is akin to nationalism is akin to racism. You can’t be one without being a bit of the others. The media only recycle the symbolic arguments of in-group VS out-group conflict. The end.

  16. Ken Sherer MCCNM 101 said

    Personally I do not have a problem with hidden cameras set up for such objectives as Candid Camera or any other show with intent of entertainment and making people laugh. However, it is only right to have the pranked sign and give authorization to the producers to use their face for entertainment.
    When it comes to cathching people such as “To Catch a Predator” I also agree with this usage. However, when it comes to catching ordinary people do bad things that aren’t illegal it is just down right cruel. Are these journalists that cover the stories perfect? There are many more stories out there that journalists could be covering that are much more important than their created story by manipulating someone into making a mistake on a hidden camera. Eventually, will everyone have to watch their backs just in case they don’t end up on TV?

  17. Jacob Chavez said

    I think it is Fine catching people on camera thats the funny thing about it is when they dont know its happening but I think there has to be a line to draw. If you dont get the persons concent to have the video be played then it shouldnt be played. and people should have a laugh about it and not be all cry baby about it if it was me i wouldnt care because when your not paying attention thats when the funniest things happen. So a hidden camera is approved by me.

  18. Jordan Gregory said

    I believe that hidden cameras have their place in investigative journaling. For instances where there are hidden cameras and subjects are put in a situation where they make their own decision, and are not baited into performing an act is what i deem acceptable. For instance i feel that if there is a hidden camera showing whether a person will help a minority who falls or sees someone getting robbed, then that is acceptable because that is showing them in their normal everyday environment making a decision. But if hidden cameras are used where people are inciting false anger and drama, like the MTV show Punked did, then that is not appropriate for professional journalism.

  19. Chelsi Jackson said

    I feel as though these tactics can be very beneficial, when used appropriately, but also very detrimental, when used loosely. In investigative journalism, hidden cameras can be extremely helpful; the show To Catch A Predator is a prime example. Hidden cameras are incredibly useful when Chris Hansen is trying to “catch a predator”; however, concealed cameras should not be used for any reason other than investigative purposes, or unless the subject signs a release saying it is OK for the video to be released.

  20. Jose Cos said

    I believe using hidden cameras to expose people wrong doing is perfectly ok. In our society these day it is really hard to believe or accept anything unless the viewer can see it for themselves. You wouldn’t take a news reporter’s word if he or she told you that the president was having an affair, you would want some sort of evidence like a photograph or video of him committing the wrong doing. In this day of time with technology and media ruling our lives, without a video, sound recording, or even photograph investigative journalism wouldn’t be as interesting

  21. Nicholas Flores said

    I believe that using hidden cameras is a great tactic to expose certain criminals as well as wrong doers. I at my work wish to show people just how stupid they really are. I love people that feel like because I work for a corporation feel that they have power to yell at me and say rude and crude things. But if we were on the streets, they would have knife to them so fast. Not saying that is what I’d ever do, but people really need to start watching what they are saying or doing. Cameras/camcorders and voice recorders are everywhere. Although cameras aren’t allowed in dressing rooms to stop people from stealing items, they can use voice recorders. Big brother or just local watchers are everywhere. In investigative journalism, cameras and voice recorders are essential to capture exactly what happened. This way, words and actions can not be taken out of context. Really what they are doing is covering their butts.

  22. Aj Ayala said

    the use of hidden cameras is a two way road. In one direction it can be a good thing. It get the evidence needed to bust criminals, like in date line, or even the show cheaters. Then on the other hand when it is used to make good people look bad well that is where it all goes wrong. yes it is an easy way to get what you want but at what cost. the thing is you can’t have both ways, you can’t just use cameras on bad people. So even though it is a great way to catch people in the act I don’t think hidden cameras/microphones should be used.

  23. Alex Miller said

    I think that the use of hidden devices can be both positvie and negative. Hidding camera’s in celebrities rooms and other places is a direct violation of privacy. If hidden microphones and cameras were aloud to be used than the nobody would have privacy ever again. I think that people that are bad an deserve to be spied on still shouldn’t have to surrender their rights of privacy. If bad people can be spied on or “tapped” than it would open a gateway to innocent people having their privacy invaded. After a while immigrants or suspicious people would start to get “tapped” by the government. Hidden cameras and microphones should not be used by the media because of the inaporpriate things that the devices could be used for.

  24. Jareth Thomas said

    Doing evil in the name of good is still evil. If you acknowlegde that and still continue to proceed with stings in whcih you know that the opinion of the person being interveiwed is something that they privately think or are baited into saying is wrong. The fact that it might reveal a wrong is not important at that point. It’s parasitic in my mind and that is not what I would think a good reporter would be. I think of a reporter as someone who finds the facts and reveals them without comprimising their own intergrity to get a story. Not someone attached to a person or place until they find the story and then moving to anoother source of interest where there could be another story.

  25. Myranda Cate said

    I think that in some cases it is wrong to mislead someone just to get a bit of information out of them but in other cases it’s the only way you can get the juicy stories out of big time companies or the government. It’s hard to say when it is and is’nt appropriate but it is just like taking advantage of someone so I wouldnt suggest it for all journalist to get what they need. Hidden cameras and changing identity to make a prank call can be useful to get certain information but shouldnt be used freely because you are exposing people who dont always deserve to be exposed to that extent.

  26. Courtnee Glenn said

    Hidden cameras are a great thing but do they need to be every where? No we must remember that one is entitled to thier privacy. They should only be in areas of where wrong is being done. Sometimes the things they catch on camera are funny but somethings caught on camera could just ruin someones life.

  27. Ken V said

    I believe using hidden cameras is ok when used for investigative journalism. It has been very effective with the How to Catch a Predator. Which has exposed some very disgusting and disturbing people looking to have sexual encounters with teens. Having said that, I do believe there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Especially if those targeted haven’t done anything to warrant secret cameras or investigation. It becomes even more so blurred due to the fact that most cell phones now days have cameras and recorders. Hence the rise in popularity with internet viral videos. Which many have made the national news. The most recent one I can recall is the video of the high school girls fighting and their mother was caught on the video instigating the fight.

  28. Tori Craft said

    HIdden cameras and microphones have led to solving crime, murder, and fraud cases and continue to be a source of witness from such legal issues. I think it is fine to have these sources and raises the awareness of people and their actions. If you don’t want something caught on tape than don’t do it and the same applies to audio. People’s true character is based on what they do when no one is watching or listening. Many people are concerns about their privacy, but in all honesty, the world is better aware and able to respond with the use of hidden cameras and microphones.

  29. Karlee Weiler said

    I believe hidden cameras are a great way to catch someone in the wrong doing, but for that purpose only. Journalism is all about getting the story correct and reporting that information to the public. I would rather a journalist pretend to be someone they arent, get the person who is doing something wrong, and have a safer neighborhood because of it. When Joren (spelling) from Aruba confused to an undercover reporter about the death of Natalie Holloway, that was huge! You cant just take someones word, its called heresay. The public needs to see this person actually say something and catch them in the act before it is believable. If the person refuses to release their rights to be shown, then great, we will just blur your face out. It is better to get the scum off the street then worry about whether it is respectable to have hidden cameras and undercover journalist.
    Karlee Weiler

  30. charles cruz said

    The uses of hidden microphones and cameras have both a positive and negative side to them.

    The positive side is that people will act differently and give you actions and response based on what they believe you want to see or hear if they know there will be recorded proof of their actions. So if one would want to obtain unbiased film or audio recordings on what people do or what they say it is impossible without doing so without them knowing or consenting to it as a way to keep everything unbiased.

    The negative side is that this will violate all confidence people have with each other and will instill a natural distrust of people. A person will always have to consider if what they say/do will be used against them later on. Life is no longer the box of chocolate from Forest Gump; but it is now a jar of spicy jalapeños that might burn your butt later on.

    There is no right or wrong answer to whether or not hidden recordings of people are a good or bad thing. Just that it will remain in a gray zone that will judge each event as its own entity and not as a part of a whole.

  31. Katy Carpio said

    In my opinion, the hidden camera thing has highly contextual ethics. When hidden cameras are used to help expose an actual crime, that’s great. Sometimes, I’m sure, it would be impossible to prove guilt without the cameras or another surreptitious method. Unfortunately, sometimes these operations are used to expose opinions that should rightly be private. For example, using a hidden camera to catch the head of NPR saying that he hates the Tea Party is not right. NPR is a heavily balanced organization, and obviously has been so even with left-leaning politics from the leader. This is because he was competent to do his job.His private, personal opinions are no one’s business but his own, and if they aren’t compromising his position or the mission of NPR, he should be left alone. Thinking something is not a crime, and thus no one needs cameras to “expose” it.

  32. Adam said

    Clandestine journalism is an invaluable tool for exposing the hidden wrongs that go unnoticed by the public. I feel that we should acknowledge the potential benefit we stand to gain from this practice, rather than rebuke the practice for being unorthodox. By no means should the press be given free reign to “investigate” whom they deem necessary, when they see fit. Strict regulation should be imposed in order to protect privacy. The “investigations” should be monitored heavily by the journalist’s superiors in order to ensure reporters are held accountable for ensuring every block is checked and everything is done legally. Limitations should also be enforced on where spying should be allowed. There needs to be a set of guidelines established limiting exactly where, when, and how the “spying” should be carried out. A consequence of this that needs to be considered is, if we allow journalists to “spy”, what’s to stop an armchair youtube journalist with no qualification as a journalist, ergo no ethical bounds, from spying for the sake of controversy?

  33. Dom Harris said

    Hidden cameras and microphones in my opinion are a part of the new age/ the revolution of journalism. Because think about it if someone or a corporation like Planned Parenthood knew they were speaking with a reporter or journalist do you really think people are going to want to speak freely about the illegal things they are doing? People harp all the time about how we want the facts to the situations we see. Why would we all of a sudden question how one received the information. The whole truth and nothings but the truth right? Is that not what the people want and if a little like or a hidden camera had to help to unveil that truth then so be it?

  34. Vanessa Emerson said

    Well as discussed in class, in journalism there is a code of ethics that is to be maintained by journalists. Getting the story by any means possible is a requirement in the corporate world & that is why corporations higher journalist who know how to get the story. Corporations give off this portrayal that they train their employees to be honest and go about getting the full story by ethical means, but in reality the truth is that they want the story by any means necessary in order to get the scoop on their competition, & if that means breaking a few rules and not getting caught they’re okay with it. However when they get caught it becomes we don’t teach that here and we aren’t going to stand for it, because they have to give off that image to the public to prevent a black eye effect upon their corporation. But if a journalist signs a form of consent, stating that they will not use any form of hidden mics or cameras and they do, than they have every right to be prosecuted.

  35. Danita Wyatt said

    It think there is a clear line between using cameras for good and using them for bad. In class, we talked about a code of ethics that should or should’t be used when in use of hidden devices. A lot of times, cameras are used for pure entertainment or playing a practical joke on someone who isn’t expecting it. They have also been used to catch people in action who are doing unethical or unlawful things and this is another positive use as well. Hidden devices are good as long as they are used for fun (with the conceit of the person) or as a method or stopping crime. However, they can become negative when they are used in a way that causes harm to innocent persons and or violates the privacy of everyday people. Thats when you can say that Hidden cameras, microphones etc. are a negative additive to society.

  36. Jake said

    Whilst the use of hidden cameras and microphones are clear and obvious violations of the journalistic code of integrity, I would have to say that in the case of Ian Murphy, he was in the clear. The use of espionage-esque tactics makes a journalist into what some might consider a criminal or heretic– it makes you as bad of a person as Nixon. However, the comments that Walker made were self-incriminating on a level that he could have controlled. One could never know if they are secretly being recorded, but in the phone conversation, Walker was quick to divulge this information without any type of confirmation that who he was speaking to was indeed who he thought it was. Murphy never muttered more than a few comments in, what to me sounded as someone clearly trying to impersonate another’s voice, and that was all it took for Walker to open the Pandora’s Box on his illicit activities.

  37. Jade Lopez said

    I personally think that if people have not a clue that they are being filmed without notice, they deserve the right. Actions made by people being watching secretly is invading their own privacy. but at the same time, that is what brings in the viewers which brings in the money, so it goes both ways.

  38. Ami Gast said

    I think that journalists often cross the line but are not punished for it because it shows others crossing the line in a worse light. Often times a journalist just sees issues as a story that must be heard, even it calls for crossing the line. Whether crossing the line means posing as someone else, using hidden technology such as cameras, microphones, or both. A journalist is to report on the facts, sometimes they just have to dig around for the facts. I also believe that without journalists crossing the line at some point public officials, or government financed programs would be worse off and the people would be mislead on certain issues. This really is a question of morals and ethics for the journalist because it could be seen as negative or positive.

  39. Quayshaun Coleman said

    I feel like us a people using hidden camera’s to expose people when they are doing wrong is wrong in itself. Nobody is perfect and everyone has done wrong so why do we use people for entertainment when we are at our lowest points? It’s cruel I personilly feel like as as a people should try and find better ways to entertain people. It should be everybody’s business what Ms. Judy down the street is doing and who with. If its bad enough then the the cops do there jobs and find out.

  40. Ian Walker said

    The idea that you could be recorded without your knowledge at practically anytime is somewhat unsettling, but it can get the job done. Additionally, people should realize that (in general, at least) they lead very boring lives. Unless you are up to some sort of shady shenanigans, chances are highly unlikely that you will be recorded.
    The issue with morals and ethics is highly subjective; the circumstances will be different each time as well as the journalist’s personal ethical opinion. As such, it is understandable why some find this topic very volatile.

  41. Alexandra Richardson said

    I think that that is both right and wrong. I for one would not want to be filmed and “spyed” on without my knowledge. Someone being on camera without them knowing would also show the real them and they would realize that they are just like any other human being and we all have the same lives, we just live them differently.

  42. Deann Pantoya said

    I personally don’t believe that hidden cameras and microphones are such a bad thing. In fact I think that hidden cameras and microphones are actually a good thing. When someone, such as the cops, are trying to catch a criminal i believe that hidden cameras can be a great thing and come into great usage. I believe that if someone has done something wrong then they should be caught and punished for it. Another usage of hidden cameras is for entertainment. Friends are constantly putting hidden cameras in places random places and catching practical jokes on tape that they have played on their friends.

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