Slate has an interesting article examining the question “Are reporters allowed to misrepresent themselves?” The question was sparked by recent stories about a British tabloid (News of the World) sending a reporter pretending to be a sheikh to try to buy the young girl who starred in “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Is such trickery kosher? The answer:
Yes, in Britain. According to the Press Complaints Commission, an independent body that monitors the British press, a reporter can engage in “misrepresentation or subterfuge,” but only when it is deemed “in the public interest.”
In the U.S., many news organizations have rules against such trickery — but television news magazines like NBC’s Dateline and CBS’s 60 Minutes have been known to use hidden cameras and shills to lure in unsuspecting folks.
All this reminds us that it is important to always know to whom you are talking…and even when you think you are talking to a reporter, you should do your research in advance. The clip below shows one of the pitfalls when you fail to do so.