New online database provides open access to undercover journalism
September 13, 2012
Undercover journalism has served the public well but does not receive the recognition it deserves, according to NYU journalism professor Brooke Kroeger.
To shed light on the practice of the particular field of journalism, Kroeger, who is also NYU director of Global and Joint Program Studies, teamed up with the university’s Division of Libraries to create an in-depth database.
“Undercover Reporting,” which went live in early August, is now available for public use online. It has over 2,500 articles written by undercover journalists, and dates range from the early 1800s to present day.
The site organizes the articles into clusters, which are grouped by subject, author or theme. Users can browse through all the individual articles or search a specific topic, author, date, method of investigation or publication. Each article’s page has an illustration, short excerpt, description and information about the author, publisher and time of publication. The database also provides links to the original texts.
After writing her 1995 “Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist” biography about the undercover reporter, Kroeger said she saw the need for a simpler way to access undercover reports.
The project was funded by NYU’s Humanities Initiative, which offers grants to faculty and students for projects it believes will promote interdisciplinary dialogue, teaching and research.
University librarian for Journalism, Media, Culture and Communication Alexa Pearce said the Digital Library Technology Services team and various members of the Library created the infrastructure of the site.
“This database is distinct because of its content, and because it is online-only,” Pearce said. “Journalists, researchers and members of the public who would like to understand more about undercover reporting and its history will find it very useful.”
Dan Fagin, director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at NYU, said the database will be beneficial to many.
“I think [the database] is a wonderful idea and is going to be useful to student journalists and professional journalists, not just in New York but all over since it’s so easily accessible,” Fagin said.
Lauren Holter, a CAS sophomore and journalism student, said the database will be useful when she needs to conduct research.
“Having so much information dating back to the 1800s in a single database will eliminate the struggle of trying to find old articles buried in outdated filing systems,” Holter said.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 13 print edition. Nicole Brown is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]