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. Their efforts are said to have inspired similar movements throughout the world.
They wrote about these topics in magazine articles that they published under their own names. The Muckrakers' work was influential in bringing attention to social problems and creating activism around them. Many politicians and businessmen took notice of what the Muckrakers had to say because they believed that truth was the most powerful weapon against injustice. Thus, the Muckrakers helped create a climate where important issues could be discussed publicly, which in turn led to changes being made either by governments or industries.
Upton Sinclair was the first Muckraker. He wrote about his experiences as an immigrant from Europe who tried to make a living in America with no success. So he decided to learn how to write about what was happening here so that other immigrants would have better chances of finding employment. His articles focused on issues such as poverty, violence, racism, and corruption in government. One of his most famous pieces is called "The Jungle" which tells the story of his attempt to find out what happened to all the animals that were supposed to be killed at a meat packing plant but weren't.
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 made use of new investigative journalism techniques (including undercover work), dramatic narrative, and emotive language to appeal across class lines.
The term "muckraking" came from the Irish word mac ghearraidh, meaning "the art of stirring up trouble." The first known use of the term in English was in 1884, when it was applied to journalists who exposed corruption and other misconduct within their communities.
The modern-day equivalent might be bloggers who expose government corruption or unfair practices.
The muckrakers were among the first mainstream journalists to use personal observation and interviews with victims rather than just reading official records to report on what they saw as important issues affecting the public interest. For example, Lincoln Steffens wrote about the evils of big business while working for the New York Evening Mail, and George Seldes reported on Japan's influence over countries around the world from his position at the Washington Post.
Their work led to many legislative reforms, such as the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1907.
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 they found in politics or business, while others criticized practices that deprived people of their rights. Although most muckraking journalists were employed by newspapers, some published their findings directly to readers. The term was first used to describe individuals who exposed waste, corruption, and other problems in public life.
The work of muckrakers contributed to the passage of many important reforms during this time period. For example, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 brought much-needed regulation to the food industry. The Railway Employment Act of 1946 provided job security for workers who might otherwise be hired and fired as needed by railroads. The Social Security Act of 1935 established federal unemployment insurance programs that provide temporary financial support to workers when they are unable to find employment.
The muckrakers were a group of pre-World War I American writers who presented thorough, factual journalistic descriptions of the political and economic corruption and social problems created by the influence of big business in a rapidly industrializing United States. They brought attention to such topics as child labor, workplace safety, medical malpractice, government regulation, and other issues in an effort to promote public awareness and support changes that would benefit workers and their communities.
Muckraking was not a single coherent ideology or set of practices; rather, it was a term used to describe various writers who sought to expose wrongdoing in politics and business. Many muckrakers were journalists (writers) who published articles in newspapers, but some were activists who worked directly with victims of injustice to improve conditions through legal means or else create new laws. Although most muckrakers were conservative critics of society's ills, several progressive thinkers also employed this tactic to draw attention to important issues within the community.
Muckraking came into use in America during the 1890s, just as industry was beginning to transform our country into a world power. As large corporations emerged to supply these new industries with labor and materials, they needed strong regulation to protect consumers and employees from unfair practices. But big business also required public acceptance if it were to remain profitable which is why many leaders of both parties in Congress rejected calls for reform.