Here's the original quote from Dr. Kroeger in the article:
“Undercover journalism goes back to at least the 1820s in this country,” says Brooke Kroeger, the director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, who has written a book on the subject, to be published next year. “And the use of hidden cameras to do it came into prominence after World War II.” Muckrakers, of course, are advocates, loved or despised according to the targets they choose. “For years, advocacy groups such as those for a better government have partnered with journalistic organizations,” Kroeger says. “Last year the Humane Society released an undercover video of the inhumane treatment of pigs in Virginia that got picked up by media around the country and won applause from animal lovers. Many of those same people vociferously went after O’Keefe for his exposé of NPR. It’s basically a question of what you care about and what side you are on.”My email:
Professor Kroeger,Her response (my emphasis in bold):
I was very disappointed to see your quote in the recent New York Times Magazine article on James O'Keefe. The quote implied that O'Keefe was using the same undercover techniques as other organizations, and people objected simply because he targeted institutions they cared about. However, the reason most people criticize O'Keefe isn't because he uses undercover video; it's because he deceptively edits the video to change the meaning of people's quotes. This is a huge difference between hiding your true identity to get video and physically doctoring video to change people's words. The later practice can destroy people's lives for things that they didn't even say or do.
I hope if you are writing a book about this subject you take into account the actual critiques of O'Keefe rather than relying on the straw man who criticizes him only because he shoots undercover video.
Thanks for your time,
Dear Adam Shriver,Similarly, Dr. Mills says he was not trying to assess the relative worth of O'Keefe, and in fact does not regard him as a journalist. Here's how Dr. Mills was quoted in the article:
Thank you for writing. My comments only were about undercover reporting in general, which, when used selectively, under strict ethical guidelines and controls, has an important place in journalism. The practice also has often been deployed historically in partnerships with advocacy, humanitarian, and better government groups. Sometimes, the work is the direct product of these groups (e.g. the humane society or groups concerned with human trafficking), which subsequently get wider dissemination in the mainstream media.
That's as far as I go and that is all I meant.
Obviously, spurious selective editing is unacceptable journalistically and ethically and would undercut and/or discredit, any project, regardless of its provenance.
But from what I have observed, it also appears true that where there is wide consensus (like against animal cruelty or human trafficking), there's no protest against the undercover project (except perhaps from those engaged in factory farm system or the criminals.) But where there is a political stake and a divided public, there's a loud and immediate protest from those who feel stung -- even before anyone vets the editing and is able to discredit the work.
I hope that's clearer. None of that got into the piece.
There is no doubt that O’Keefe disseminated only the material that supported his thesis about Acorn, but this kind of selectivity is the norm in advocacy journalism. “I put James O’Keefe in the same category as Michael Moore,” says Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri’s school of journalism. “Some ethicists say it is never right for a journalist to deceive for any reason, but there are wrongs in the world that will never be exposed without some kind of subterfuge.”Here's my email to Dr. Mills:
Professor Mills,His response (my emphasis in bold):
I was very disappointed to see your quote in the recent New York Times Magazine article on James O'Keefe. The quote implied that O'Keefe was using the same undercover techniques as Michael Moore, and suggested that the only criticism of him was his "selectivity." However, the reason most people criticize O'Keefe isn't because he uses undercover video or is "selective"; it's because he deceptively edits the video to literally change the meaning of people's quotes. This is a huge difference between hiding your true identity to get video and physically doctoring video to change people's words. The later practice can destroy people's lives for things that they didn't even say or do.
In fact, earlier this year people (including one of O'Keefe's friends) used techniques almost identical to O'Keefe to try to attack the University of Missouri system by doctoring professors' quotes. O'Keefe and Breitbart represent everything you should be opposed to as someone who respects the institution of journalism.
Thanks for your time,
Excellent point. Thanks for taking the time to write.
I would only say that I was not attempting to assess the relative worth or ethics of Moore and O'Keefe overall. I was speaking only to the narrower point of whether either one is a journalist. I think neither is. I think they are both advocates.