1st Edition

Undercover Reporting, Deception, and Betrayal in Journalism

By Denis Muller, Andrea Carson Copyright 2023

    This book discusses undercover reporting, betrayal and deception in journalism, addressing the ethical issues encountered by professionals when deception is involved and providing an explanation of how high-profile cases have developed.

    Carson and Muller begin by examining how philosophical theories which form the basis of contemporary ethical codes for journalists, bear upon undercover reporting and questions of deception in the digital age. Drawing upon case studies such as Al Jazeera’s undercover operation against the National Rifle Association in the US and the One Nation political party in Australia, and Britain’s Channel 4 infiltration of Cambridge Analytica, this book goes on to define and discuss the ethical concepts behind deception and betrayal and lays out an original ethical framework for undercover journalists facing related challenges in their work.

    Undercover Reporting, Deception, and Betrayal in Journalism is an important research text for students and academics in journalism and media studies.

    List of Tables



    Chapter 1 : Concepts: Deception, consent, betrayal, the public interest, masquerade, entrapment

    Chapter 2: Case study: Phone hacking and News of the World

    Chapter 3: Case study: Channel 4, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook

    Chapter 4: Case study: Al Jazeera, NRA, and One Nation

    Chapter 5: Hybrid journalism: Deception of the audience

    Chapter 6: Conclusions


    Denis Muller is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne.

    Andrea Carson is Professor of Political Communication in the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University.