During the late 19th century, leading into the 20th century, The Gilded Age was in full swing. The exploitation and graft of the time motivated a group of investigative journalists, entitled muckrakers, to emerge. These muckrakers sensationalized the social, economic, and political corruption in America and brought the issues to the public eye. In looking at a common story threaded through the history of muckraking- poverty- one can see the style of muckraking, and the way it affects society has dramatically changed over time. At their start, muckrakers were effective, as they targeted the white, middle class population; a population capable of enacting changes. Yet, as multimedia news has arisen, individuals all of socioeconomic backgrounds have access to news, and due to bias broadcasting people are becoming jaded to the news. Hence, the reputation and credibility of modern muckrakers is growing increasingly weak.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the country started to go through a political and economic change. As Theodore Roosevelt took office in 1901, he became the first progressive president, and therefore the first president to truly control the economy. Although Roosevelt began to break apart the various trusts controlling society, he ultimately could not diminish the entire poverty issue on his own. Muckrakers began to shed light on the predicament, and motivate individuals and private organizations to make a difference.
Early 20th century muckraking consisted of strictly written media. Most muckraking publications happened in either magazines, such as McClure’s Magazine, or novels, such as The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Sinclair’s novel revealed the horrors of the meat industry, and the poverty of th...
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...tion and portray it in a multimedia environment, giving people the chance to hear, read, and see what they are trying to present. This is extremely effective in technique, as it appeals to multiple senses, and strengthens the delivery of their message.
As previously discussed, muckraking, or investigative journalism, has been present in America for well over a century. What was once a purely written art has turned into a multimedia branch of news. Despite the bias in many news reports, muckrakers have always tried to aide society by revealing the truth and providing a call to action. They have initiated change through the passing of laws, working as a catalyst during the Civil Rights Movement, and providing awareness to current problems. As seen muckrakers have been effective despite the various technological, social, and political hindrances working against them.
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