Undercover Muckraking a Lonely, Dangerous Job

November 28, 2012

Ever since Upton Sinclair helped invent and define muckraking journalism in his 1906 classic, The Jungle, undercover work has been part of investigative journalism. Sinclair researched his novel incognito as a meatpacking plant worker.

Now Caroline Abels updates the story with an account of today's muckrakers going undercover in investigations conducted by the Humane Society of the U.S. The group's director of investigations urges potential undercover recruits to think about the lonely, smelly, depressing, and exhausting job they may be signing up for. Originally published in the Humane Society's Humaneitarian/Eat With Care blog, it was cross-posted in Grist.

The Humane Society looks for candidates with clean backgrounds. Some state laws (e.g., Iowa's) and proposed federal laws make it a crime to lie about one's job history on an application for work at an animal-handling facility.