Muckrakers Paper

This essay has a total of 1994 words and 9 pages.

Muckrakers

Muckraking was a powerful journalistic force, whose supporters made it become so.
Muckraking was the practice of writers and critics exposing corrupt politicians and
business practices. President Theodore Roosevelt made the term "muck-raker" popular. He
once said

The man with the muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward with the muck-rake
in his hands; who was offered a celestial crown for his muckrake, but who would neither
look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake himself the filth of
the floor.

Some, like Roosevelt viewed methods of muckrakers such as Ida Tarbell, Ray S. Baker,
Lincoln Steffens, and Upton Sinclair as these types of people. Others saw these muckraking
methods as perfectly acceptable for fighting against the industrial powerhouses. Either
way, these muckrakers worked hard to arouse sentiment in the hearts of the public (Reiger
1).

Muckraking actually began long before the years of 1900-1902, when the muckraking movement
is credited to have begun. Jesus was probably the first muckraker. Years later, Martin
Luther exposed the corruptness of the Catholic Church. Also, early Abolitionist
works--Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Helper's The Impending Crisis used muckraking to get
a point across. However, events during the 1890s most directly paved the way for the
critiques and exposures of existing conditions. This period was able to reach a limited
upper class and the muckrakers were able to expand appeal to the average middle class
citizen (Reiger 49-50).

One reason for the outspread of muckraking was the explosion of journalism. From 1870-1909
the number of daily newspapers circulated boomed from 574 to 2,600 and the number of
subscribers from 2,800,000 to 24,800,000. With this increase, newspaper owners and editors
needed new bait to reel in its subscribers. The newspaper editors wanted to replace
ordinary town gossip with gossip about the latest events of the city. Therefore, in
newspapers they placed the most shocking events and kept the rural mind drooling for more.
As newspaper circulation grew, the large newspaper depended much less on political parties
and could now even challenge them. Newspapers played on the new human interest, the
concern of the wealthy with the affairs of those below them, status-wise. This "story of
the poor" became the basic outline for muckraking (Hofstadter 185-188).

This new concern of the public demanded more from reporters. Reporters had to dig up
exposes and human-interest stories. However, reporters received more and more notice from
the public eye. A reporter's job was becoming more and more glamorous and held the
aspirations of a growing number of young. As this occurred, those of education and those
of culture sought out the reporter's field (Hofstadter 189-190).

As newspapers saw a radical change, magazines observed one as well. Previous magazines
received limited audiences and were run by literary men. The new magazines, emerging in
1900 were run by business promoters and reached audiences ranging from 400,000 to
1,000,000. They took a turn away from literature and began writing what greatly resembled
news. These magazines, many of which by accident, began producing muckraking articles. One
of the most significant of these muckraking magazines was McClure's. Others included
Hampton's and Pearson's. Magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Collier's produced some
muckraking articles, but were not muckraking magazines in themselves (Hofstadter 190-191).

McClure's magazine had already built a very reasonably sized circulation through popular
fiction and historical representation. Ida Tarbell, the most popular reporter of the
magazine, investigated Standard Oil originally as a way of honoring this great American
business. However, Tarbell started to discover the unhappiness of the workers. She decided
to research more deeply into the Standard Oil Company. Her research provided her with the
story of a company whose ideas were based on "primary privileges." These primary
privileges allowed the company to operate under special permission, but more importantly
operate immorally. This investigation was eventually printed in 1902 and is now considered
the work that started the muckraking era (Reiger 121-125).

Besides writing her "History of the Standard Oil Company," Ida Tarbell wrote many other
muckraking works. She followed the Standard Oil Company saga to write two articles on how
the company affected Kansas and two articles on Rockefeller himself. Tarbell eventually
left McClure's magazine because of a disagreement in business policy and formed the
American with other former members of the McClure's staff. During her career at the
American, Tarbell published many articles including "How Chicago is Finding Herself;"
"Hunt for a Money Trust;" "Roosevelt vs. Rockefeller" and "The Mysteries and Cruelties of
the Tariff." In this tariff article, from 1910 to 1911, Tarbell challenged the tariff
legislation. In a series of seven articles she wrote of the strong connection between the
tariff legislation and big business. She also showed that the tariff legislation gave no
protection to the laborer and hinted that it had no concern for the laborer at all (Reiger
125, 144-145,155-156).

Another notable muckraker was Ray S. Baker. Like Tarbell, Baker started out his muckraking
career writing for McClure's magazine. Between the years of 1903 and 1906, Baker wrote
articles including "How Railroads Make Public Opinion," "The Railroad Rate," and
"Railroads on Trial." These articles discussed the use of rebates, the treatment of
private cars, favoritism in rate making, creating of public opinion and the destruction of
industries by railway consolidation and rate discrimination. Again like Tarbell, Baker
left the McClure's staff and joined the American magazine company. During his employment
at the American, Baker focused on the discrimination of the "Negro" and his problem with
religion. Some articles between 1907 and 1909 were "Following the Color Line" and "The
Negro's Struggle for Survival in the North," and "The Godlessness of New York" and "The
Spiritual Unrest." Baker in his writings was not primarily critical of American life.

He described both the good and the bad as he saw them, fully confident that in the end the
Continues for 5 more pages >>