A muckraker was any of a group of American authors who were associated with pre-World War I reform and exposé writing. The muckrakers gave extensive, factual journalistic portrayals of political and economic wrongdoing, as well as social suffering, caused by large corporate power in a rapidly industrializing United States.
They made use of new investigative journalism techniques derived from modern-day professional journalism practices. These included personal interviews, on-site investigations, and the systematic gathering and publication of data about companies and institutions.
The muckrakers were influential in the development of American politics and journalism, and their work helped lead to the passage of many important reforms. They can be divided into three groups: political, business, and labor.
Political muckrakers exposed corruption in government office holders' dealings with corporations. They often based their attacks on official documents released by government agencies or private sources. Examples include Lincoln Steffens' investigation of the New York City Police Department, which led to major police reforms; and Ida Tarbell's exposure of oil industry corruption, which resulted in major changes in the way oil is extracted from wells.
Business muckrakers reported on companies that violated workers' rights or harmed the environment during their operations. They often used undercover work and first-hand experience to document these abuses.
Muckraking publishers such as Samuel S. McClure emphasized factual reporting as well, but they also desired what historian Michael Schudson identified as one of the preferred qualities of journalism at the time, namely the combination of "reliability and sparkle" to pique the interest of a mass audience.
What does it mean to be a "muckraker"? A muckraker was any of a group of American authors who were associated with pre-World War I reform and exposé writing. The muckrakers gave extensive, factual journalistic portrayals of political and economic wrongdoing, as well as social suffering, caused by large corporate power in a rapidly industrializing United States.
During the Progressive period, the Muckrakers were a group of writers, including Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, and Ida Tarbell, who attempted to expose the issues that existed in American society as a result of the development of big business, urbanization, and immigration. The vast majority of the muckrakers were journalists. They published articles about their findings while on assignment or based on material they had previously gathered.
The Muckrakers' efforts are considered important antecedents of the New Deal reform movement. Like the Muckrakers, many members of the New Deal team were dissatisfied with what they perceived to be the failure of government to regulate corporate activity. Additionally, like the Muckrakers, some members of the New Deal team used their positions within the government to investigate alleged wrongdoing by large corporations.
They wrote about their findings in magazines such as McClure's, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Atlantic Monthly. The Muckraker movement resulted in laws being passed that regulated industry and established agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, some have argued that this movement also contributed to the election of Donald Trump because it showed the public how corrupt businesses could be.
In conclusion, the goal of the Muckrakers during the Progressive Era was to expose social problems and advocate for change through journalism.
Muckrakers were Progressive Era journalists and authors who attempted to uncover wrongdoing in large business and government. Muckrakers' activities affected the adoption of crucial laws that increased labor and consumer safeguards. Some muckraking articles were able to influence public opinion enough to cause politicians to take action.
The term was coined by Lincoln Steffens, who used it to describe himself and other journalists who exposed corruption and abuse of power during this time period. Steffens popularized the term after publishing an article on Missouri politics titled "The Shame of the State". In it he criticized the legislature for its failure to pass necessary reforms such as unemployment insurance. He suggested that they instead spend their time socializing and drinking with lobbyists rather than working on legislation that would benefit the people.
Before the advent of muckraking, the media was not involved in political affairs. It was common for newspapers to have connections to various factions within politics, but when these conflicts of interest were reported, they usually took the form of letters to the editor or op-eds written by prominent figures.
Muckraking changed all this. Steffens and other reporters employed by magazines and journals began reporting on legislative misconduct and other issues that affected the public interest. Rather than simply writing about politics, they became influential players in shaping policy.
Their efforts led to the creation of newspapers that published many important stories about political corruption, industrial accidents, child labor practices, and other topics in the early 20th century.
They all wrote for publications such as The McClure Newspaper Magazine, The Appeal to Reason, and World's Work. Each one covered different subjects but they all sought to reveal the truth behind public figures and events. They wanted to show how industry and politics often worked together to keep people ignorant of their actions.
The Muckrakers' efforts helped create a more aware citizenry and inspired others to follow in their footsteps. Many people believe this is why there are so many social justice movements today; because people realize that something needs to be done about important issues like poverty, war, environmental destruction, and more.
Sinclair used his fame to push for government regulation of industry, while Steffens and Tarbell wrote about the abuse of power by corporations and individuals. Although they wrote about different subjects, all three men were responsible for bringing awareness to important issues of their time.