Undercover Tourist

BBC Program Uses Smartphones to Expose Animal Cruelty World-Wide

Posted July 05, 2017
Share To

A new program on BBC Three is taking advantage of smartphones and other small video equipment to shed light on animal cruelty around the world. The show, Undercover Tourist, highlights a new issues on each program as a video journalists goes undercover as a tourist to expose the truth.

Using small cameras and audio equipment, and relying on the unassuming nature of smartphones, these activists/journalists are able to tell a story that previously could no be told. In the video above we see travel photographer and video journalist Megan McCubbin in Vietnam hunting down the illegal bear bile industry. Using her smartphone and in one case a hidden camera she is able to show the viewer a bear facility where the bile is extracted, a store where it is sold, and more.

This kind of reporting was near impossible just a decade ago. When McCubbin shows up at and has her smartphone out, she is assumed to be a tourist, someone just taking a picture or video to share with friends and family, what does not cross into the people she's exposing heads is that she could be a journalists creating something that will be aired on national UK television and then put on the internet for the world to see. This is the unassuming nature of smartphones. Had she walked in with a crew with two big cameras, a sound person and lighting person, she wouldn't have made it through the door. The people she was exposing would have seen the big cameras, known something was up, and the story would have ended before it could even get started.  The new technology and her way of working alone not only helped make the final product what it was, it was the reason that she could make the video at all.

This shows us the amazing potential of what new technologies can do to television. Instead of just taking new technologies, like small cameras, and jamming them into the old ways of working, here we see a new style of programming predicated on the new technology. It's looking at new technology and thinking: what new things can we do with this; instead of looking at new technology and thinking: we can use this for what we are already doing. This is the kind of content we want to see more of!

Check out the show here.


Recent Posts

For most of human history, people lived in a world without news. The concept simply did not exist. The idea of news is really a 19th-century phenomenon, driven first by newspapers, and then by electronic media which brought us radio, then TV and now the web. Now, it seems, we are headed back to a world without news. Not because the technology is not there, but rather because, increasingly, people are no longer interested in news, at least in the way it is packaged now.

What TV News Could Be
February 26, 2024

When television was invented in the 1930s, no one knew what TV news was supposed to look like. The medium had never existed before, and so, like Gutenberg half a millennium, prior, the first creators of TV news had to fall back on a medium with which they were familiar, and that was radio.

Maybe scary stories drive ratings… or maybe they don’t.

Share Page on: