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 muckrakers were mostly journalists. They published articles about their findings while working for newspapers that would not publish anything that might be considered libelous.
They made themselves heard by writing about what they saw as wrong with America. Many Americans at the time believed that journalism was meant to serve one purpose: to tell the people what they needed to know so they could make informed decisions about their lives. But the muckrakers believed that it was also their duty to inform the public about any wrongdoing they found, no matter how unpleasant it might be for those involved.
Their efforts led to many changes being made within industry and government to make them more accountable to their citizens. They are now seen as the founders of the modern-day news media.
Upton Sinclair is regarded as the father of muckraking. He wrote about topics such as child labor, meatpacking, municipal corruption, and housing conditions. One of his most famous works is The Jungle, which told the story of life in a Chicago slaughterhouse through interviews with workers and observations of the manufacturing process. It was adapted into a film in 1991 that won an Academy Award for Best Picture.
A muckraker was any of a group of pre-World War I American authors associated with reform and exposing writing. The muckrakers presented extensive, factual journalistic portrayals of political and economic wrongdoing, as well as social suffering, caused by large corporate power in a rapidly industrializing America. They focused on issues such as child labor, sweatshops, urban poverty, overfishing of coastal waters, and environmental destruction. Although most were not socialist, they shared an anti-establishment attitude and used their writings to expose corruption within government and business.
Muckraking writers were able to get away with being controversial because newspaper editors at the time did not have strong standards when it came to content. If an editor felt that a piece of writing would increase reader interest or provide a different perspective on a topic, he or she would publish it. This allowed muckraking writers to express themselves freely without fearing retribution from their employers.
Muckraking articles often included photographs taken by members of the public who submitted them for publication. These images helped readers understand issues less familiar to most people at the time, such as sweatshop production lines or chemical dumps. Some photographers made a living taking pictures and selling them to newspapers; others took advantage of this opportunity to make money with their creative work.
Writers usually received no compensation for their work, except perhaps an honorarium from individuals or organizations whose practices they wrote about.
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 members of the staff of the Chicago Daily News who in 1892 went undercover to expose police brutality. After publishing articles on this subject for several months, the paper's owners gave the reporters permanent jobs. Other newspapers quickly followed suit, and by 1898 there were enough muckrakers working across America to found the National Association of Muckrakers, which promoted ethical journalism and fought political corruption. Although the association failed, its legacy lives on in today's mainstream media.
The term is now used to describe other individuals that fight corruption and make the public aware of issues such as pollution, government waste, and unfair practices. These people are often called watchdog journalists because they act like dogs that warn their owners about intruders.
Muckraking has also become a noun meaning investigative reports that reveal corrupt practices. Today, this type of journalism is usually called "watchdog" reporting because it helps others know what types of activities take place inside organizations such as banks, businesses, and governments.
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 journalists exposed corruption, while others raised public awareness about issues such as poverty, child labor, prison conditions, and environmental damage.
The term "muckraking" comes from the Irish word mac ghearraidh, which means "the act of searching for trouble." Early reporters used this term to describe their efforts to expose political and corporate corruption. Before the rise of mass media, individuals were responsible for bringing attention to important issues by writing articles, giving speeches, and organizing protests. These actions made muckrakers unique players in American politics; they fought for social justice by drawing attention to problems that needed fixing.
Muckraking journalists often received threats for their investigations, so they took precautions to protect themselves. Most wore disguises when going undercover, used multiple sources, and filed reports even if they didn't end up using them in their stories. Some journalists even moved to different cities or states to avoid retaliation from those they criticized.