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. However, several politicians have also been classified as muckrakers because of their efforts to expose corruption within their own governments and move them toward more ethical practices.
Ida Tarbell was an American journalist who wrote about industrial culture and its effects on workers and consumers. She focused primarily on the oil industry but also wrote about steel, mining, and tobacco companies. Her articles appeared in various magazines between 1905 and 1920. After retiring from her position at the Tarbell Family Papers at the Ohio History Center, she continued to write until just before her death in 1944.
Upton Sinclair is best known for his novel The Jungle, which exposed the evils of Chicago's meatpacking industry. However, he wrote many other books and articles over the course of his career. Some of his other works include The Brass Check, A Man Without a Country, and It's My Life.
Lincoln Steffens was an American writer who traveled around the country reporting on politics and government affairs. He produced seven books and hundreds of articles during his lifetime. His most famous work is The Shame of the Nation, which was published in 1904.
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 included: Lincoln Steffens, who covered politics and law enforcement; Ida Tarbell, who wrote about business practices; and Ray Stannard Baker, who reported on rural life.
They made their names by exposing corruption and abuse of power by government officials and corporations. Many became famous for their investigative reports published in major newspapers across the country. Although most were not professional journalists, they used the same kinds of sources and methods as those people are today. Some traveled around America making observations and taking notes. Others questioned witnesses and reviewed official documents. Still others used their influence as members of Congress or state legislators to obtain information from other sources.
Muckraking brought much-needed attention to problems in society that had gone unnoticed by more conservative news organizations. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 words per day were being written about crime, scandal, and politics before the debut of Steffens' and Tarbell's articles in 1900, and nearly as many as later with the addition of writers like Baker and George Packer.
From the 1890s through the 1920s, the muckrakers were a group of journalists that turned American society upside down by exposing corruption and enlightening readers about major social concerns. This word is frequently used to refer to journalists who follow in their footsteps by releasing exposes and battling corruption.
The term was first used to describe journalists such as Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell who exposed illegal activity by politicians and big business owners. By bringing attention to issues such as police brutality, child labor, and environmental destruction, they helped create a culture where these problems could be discussed publicly and something done about them.
Muckraking has been called "the journalism of indignation." These journalists took on public figures who were acting in a manner inconsistent with the ideals of democracy. They often used original sources documents to prove their points and showed how certain events were connected.
Some examples of muckraking include: Edwin D. Martin's investigation into the death of Thomas Jefferson Jones who was buried in an unmarked grave, resulting in the creation of Virginia's Memorial Park; Lincoln Steffens' coverage of the Mississippi River flood of 1927 which led to reforms in government oversight of industry; and Tarbell's exposé of the food industry which started the movement toward food safety laws.
The term is now used to describe writers that use investigative reporting to expose wrongdoings.