Undercover journalism should be the last resort, taken up only when nothing else can really work.
Undercover journalism is justified when...
* the issue is of major public interest;Don't go undercover...
* no other means can dig out the facts;
* you are confident that no gross violation of laws is involved;
* you are sure that no harm will be caused to individuals.
* just for the thrill of it;
* to push up the TRPs;
* because your promoter/manager/boss wants you to;
* because your competitor has done it;
* for personal rivalry or personal gain;
* for subjects or issues which can be dealt with using normal news-gathering mechanisms;
* as part of an academic exercise or as an experiment.An undercover operation should not be undertaken without...
* a considered decision by the top editorial/management team including legal experts who can evaluate the pros and cons;During post-production, don't...
* an evaluation of its possible impacts for society and the general public, to ensure that it will not compromise national security or lead;
* to blackmail, sexual abuse, suicide or rights violations;
* setting clear boundaries for the team -- they should know what is and what is not their job.
* handle the footage in public -- potentially obscene images or unethical/immoral acts should not be previewed in public;During and after the telecast, don't...
* leave the job to anyone else -- preview and production should be done under your direct supervision/guidance;
* sensationalise the story -- if the issue is really important, the story will be explosive even without embellishment;
* show the face or reveal identity of victims (especially if they are children, women and juveniles);
* violate norms of public decency -- cover/blur the footage or even, if necessary, delete some portion of it and inform the viewers why you have done this;
* present only one side of the story -- take a 360 degrees approach, especially while handling a controversial subject;
* give a byline unless it is really required;
* waste/delete the raw or original footage/data -- keep the entire content in an unedited and undistorted format for future editorial previews, investigations or legal requirements;
* allow the story to be aired without a proper group/team preview -- show the final story to your boss get approval form others as well, where required.
* hesitate to review or correct your story if there is any critical input or feedback -- keep your eyes and ears open when the story goes on-air;
* shy away from taking the responsibility for moral and legal issues that may arise after the telecast -- the thumb rule is, you are responsible for anything and everything that you put on air.