tv Book Discussion CSPAN November 8, 2014 7:00pm-7:31pm EST
.. i'm called to fix your leak, i'll fix your leak. since i have come to fox news i have come to feel that there are a lot of hidden, unexamined assumptions and opinions that do feed their way into reporting and that it's -- some people say fox news, they are right wing and they -- the point i make, it's certainly on my broadcast, "fox news sunday" i think if you are aware i do have opinions. and you confront that fact -- i don't think broadcasting them, i don't think it's useful to say what my feelings and opinions are about the iraq war, but i do have them and i think maybe i confront them a little bit more
openly and humanly and maybe it helps me a little bit in dealing with trying to be an honest broker in terms of asking tough questions of all sides as we come to the end of the political campaign, because i -- instead of saying, gee, i don't have biases, i recognize the biases and try to put them in my back pocket. >> you also say in the chapter on george w. bush, when i first met him at a small luncheon for reporters, the reality was in sharp contrast to the popular image. when did you first meet him and what's the difference? >> the first time i had a prolonged -- the first time i had met him. i never hit him as a candidate. during most of his term when i was working at abc and not involved in politics i had been the very first time i met him was one of these white house christmas parties where you're in a receiving line and you shake his hand.
the first time hi any exposure to him was -- i had any exposure to him was the day of the state of the union speech which was the day after the iowa caucuses this year, 2004, and they hold a luncheon at the white house for the anchors of the evening newscasts and ankors of the sunday shows. so this was my first invitation to it. in what's called the family dining room. a small dining off off the state dining room. and the president and vice president and a few of his top aides were there and it was his opportunity at lunch to sell what he was going to say in his state of the union speech. i guess again the view you have as an outsider of this president, certainly something that's been portrayed in the press, is that he does not have a mastery of detail, to some degree i never really believed this but maybe he's under the sway of vice president cheney. that he might not be in full
command of policy, certainly as i say the details of policy. what i found at the lunch was this was a guy -- i don't think it was an act. i think this is a guy who is really in charge. was very conversant in the details of policy. they conversant -- he just had a delegation of iraqis in. was talking about the sunnis and the sheas and various specific guys and various secretaries. -- sects. it's like that wonderful, "saturday night live" skit they had about reagan where he was there and kind of -- slightly dense. and then with the press and then he goes in and starting to talk arabic to one guy and leading the generals around. and there was that sense of bush that there was a command and a professionalism of a person who ran the show that i had never
interviewing professors from new york university as part of our universities series. we are here with professor brooke kroeger "undercover reporting" is any of her most recent book. what is the definition of undercover reporting? >> guest: it is a subset of investigative reporting involves reporters engaging in deceit and blending in. and depending on the thousand permutations. >> host: is a legitimate reporting? >> guest: in many cases, yes. and no end of the policy for the legitimacy it is a contrarian position. it is by observing the import guidelines that to be
sure there is no other effective way to tell the story. on because what you have to realize to bring attention to an issue especially in cases of for doing let you cannot see to bring that to public attention. >> host: what is an example of legitimate undercover reporting? >> guest: there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of examples going back to that 1840's by my measure. and started around 18 '80s with the subject of my first book that actually going
back to the 1840's with reporters from the north to understand slavery with a whole abolition movement. so they say go to a slave auction as a buyer. that was fantastic because you walked around with catalogs and you have the possibility of talking to other people's slaves. you could see where you would purchase you could talk to other buyers or owners and it was one stop shopping for a reporter who tried to understand more about what was involved. that was the great example and there were many episodes of this.
and then to pose as northern reporters. they often would claim so they would not bring attention on themselves. from one side and the other. they were often right with under the initials or other moniker and then send the work back because they would have been tarred and feathered and thrown out. >> host: it is the goal social change? >> sometimes it is to give a window into institutions with mental hospitals.
places such as that. but other times it could just be to understand the extremist movement to understand what the movement was up to. >> host: you write the criteria for inclusion the book and the data base as to intermingle all types of media. the main focus is journalism the required mostly physical acts of deception by reporters or their surrogates and makes blending in with the crowd radically altered divinities excluded for the most part is work at designated by work. what is one famous example of that? >> guest: george orwell had a lot of composite
characters but it was so popular leader -- popular in some much of an inspiration i had to include it. upton sinclair of course, it is a work of fiction but if you read the literature he says there's almost no elements in the books that were fictionalized almost all of it was documented and be documented proposal he would make the climate was not accept the reading of the narrative of the story line. they're still talking about it. i cannot tell you how many times someone has done the undercover expos a of the slaughterhouse there's something about the food chain that is important to us and people are visibly affected.
he said he wanted to do something for their workers the he writes for the stomach and the examples the abuse and the lives of the people really did touch people in a different way. their revelations that came in the second half of the book. so that effective policy which was something. and everything they wanted to be. that was important to him. >> host: talk about jack london but there was something else that he wrote? >> that was a young man's effort he bought himself some shabby clothes and lived among the locals for a period of two months and
really presented this as the study of a group of people under difficult conditions. and it was important for him although the book was popular and part of it was for the income but he was quite effective with that. >> host: professor kroeger what was the deception of upton sinclair? >> guest: not much. that is what is interesting. the fact is all he did is he just as he dressed and actually when he arrived in
chicago he announced he was there to save the working man and was up front that with these slaughterhouses he carried a lunch pail and a -- gave the impression he was among the people there are stories of undercover reporting where a reporter at the crime scene for something that gives off another impression so that is what he did and because he spent so much time with everyone he would tell stories or wander and that is how he informed himself. >> host: who was nellie bly? >> guest: what a question working for the new york
herald she died young. who really became the most visible exponent which was a form of the times that involve reporters posing. this predates what we call serious investigative reporting of what i did what i saw and she started telling a story of the insane asylums of all the cancer spots in the prisons and everything was shoved onto the island there were reports over the press that
there was wrongdoing and doctors were misbehaving and things are not right. she claimed insanity checked into a boarding house and stayed there for 10 days. there was an exit strategy and when she came down there was an extraordinary piece about her experience it turns out 10 years later whenever editors did some things similar with the effect of this 22 year-old young woman who cannot write this tale and created change there is a special appropriation made to improve conditions from her report. then she went on to do many
others. only two and a half years of her life was been doing this yet here we are talking about here -- her 150 years after her birth. there is a middle school children's program every year for the last 20 years i have had no fewer than five or six girls who were fascinated by nellie bly that whenever the gene is she always has the book. i have that kind of experience as a little girl when the book came out we found out many women importers -- reporters had this experience that it astounds me that everything they would have followed
that she retains an aura of fascination. and this is great to i'd have to be a teacher i can be a journalist. but now so much is open to women. but it delights me over and over to still have that kind of the fact. because what she did was about social grace even posing as a chorus girl. >> host: a lot of large newspapers have done this including the "washington post" has the newspaper
industry led to cutbacks? >> i cannot answer that directly but what has happened since the late '70s the newspapers need to take another look at that like the chiquita banana episode that does take a lot of time and it is expensive we do find the magazine's that pick it up the newspapers may be small like airport security like those kinds of things that we see relative really -- relatively frequently. but parted it is a screw me that may not be welcomed but
also that we could spend nine months and that could happen so from that sense. >> host: are their ethical concerns? >> of course, . it is about deception. to make that decision is a very big one. back to the original question you have to decide if what you're doing is worth it. like one of the oldest reasons of all is there is a homeless person that that gets your attention but that is not enough of a reason the yet it might make a very
that is not so important to meet the the execution of the work. it has been very prominent for decades for newspapers or magazines or television stations to partner with better government associations, societies, this is not unusual. there's usually within something going around the world so to know where things are happening. a study this doesn't matter of course, . but the way i explain it in the book is the fact that
this happened and p.r. came under the expos a but at the same time the humane society did an investigation. nobody gets upset about animal cruelty we're all on that page but generally speaking we talk about not putting animals down unnecessarily but there was no discussion about that but people feel very strongly about npr. that caused a controversy. because this is about what you did that what is controversial.
is so it has nothing to do with the work. what is the quality of the work? so if we display one position with that high journalistic standard. >> host: prior to becoming professor of journalism you would participate in undercover reporting? >> guest: i wasn't overseas reporter for many years. i have done it all. but i have never done under cover reporting but i have been in situations that i
had to hide who was as most reporters have been no real undercover operations. what fascinates me is that the deceptions of purpose and interested in that because i write about it in different ways. >> host: what is the illegitimate use of undercover? >> guest: illegal is one. [laughter] so a baseline position i can imagine cases teammate break the law but as a general rule, don't. something silly like it with nellie bly imitators would do things like stand outside the social club looking like
a salesgirl to see who would arrive. that types of things are illegitimate. i don't think it isn't to penetrate public institutions that we should know more about. if hospitals are unsanitary there are some great expos days about hospitals. in the 19 seventies -- 1970's there is an investigative reporter there was a tribune task force to of all the investigative work and what did involve the undercover techniques that had become out of fashion. they got a call from a disgruntled janitor that while he was working at the hospital he was asked numerous times to go into
the operating room and we'll be unconscious patients from the operating room to their rooms this is pretty horrific. this is a great demonstration why it can be important. so they decided they needed to get him hired as a janitor they found out what they were looking for he worked for one week that while he was there he notices families are getting their tonsils out. said he reports this back to the desk and say of course, it was public record you could find it out but you did not know that ask unless it was written. so that is a pretty girl
reason in addition to asking to go into the operating room to put down his lot it was one story in the authoritative series that won the pulitzer prize what anybody remembers his living as the janitor. and was a hugely wrong but he often said i feel like i won the pulitzer to be a janitor and a not a journalist. but that since to me how important it is with the rest of the story, a gym packed one would have with a harder facts the retold anecdotes that somehow does
not have the same power and it is just one piece of a very large in well-documented series. >> host: brooke kroeger your students have been doing the undercover reporting assignment? >> guest: once taught a course to a similar observational journalism. but at 13 weeks you cannot do anything that would matter. so the time for a really constructs. i have had people use these techniques but much longer more like for a thesis but not something done in 14
weeks i would have them take one episode to bring it down >> host: how has teaching journalism changed in the industry? >> it has changed a lot. we just had a big panel talking about the moves into the global reporting. into the master's program. and each one of them there really is about hard-core reporting to add lee janzen and legions of multimedia but the bedrock is the reporting and the writing is still the bedrock. >> host: brooke kroeger the book "undercover reporting" journalism