Hidden cameras make a comeback

Did they ever really go away? SPJ’s Jon Marshall contends that hidden cameras fell out of favor in TV newsrooms after the ABC News-Food Lion case in 1992. On his NewsGems blog, Marshall writes, “Fortunately, it looks like they’ve made a strong comeback as part of some great stories.” His post highlights three recent stories that made extensive use of hidden cameras: D.C. Metal Detectors (Fox5, Washington); Juiced in the Valley (ABC15, Phoenix); and Aged Tires (ABC News). See if you think their use of undercover video follows these guidelines:

  • The story involves matters of vital public concern, prevention of profound harm, or system failure
  • Any harm caused by deception is outweighed by the harm prevented by the story
  • The undercover video is essential and brings real value

For more guidance on using hidden cameras, check these legal protocols and ethics standards from RTNDA and Poynter.

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The best of the Web

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then you might want to consider complimenting the winners of the 2008 EPpy Awards by imitating them.  At the very least, you’ll want to check out what some of these folks are doing online.

The EPpys are awarded by Editor & Publisher to honor superior online content.  Feel free to view them all, but we suggest that you pay particular attention to some of the top local TV winners.  The following were finalists for Best Overall Local TV Web Site:

And take a look at some of the terrific enterprise reporting at some of the smaller news organizations honored.  (These are folks that probably don’t have a tremendous amount of resources, yet they manage to do award-winning work.) 

Take a look at how the winners listed above leverage the power of multimedia to make their stories more complete and more compelling than they could have been in a single medium.