Muckrakers In The 20th Century

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At the turn of the twentieth century a new part of America’s political culture was beginning to emerge due to the country’s advances in technology and specifically in the creation of mass magazine publications. These publications were able to reach largely the country’s growing middle class. These journalists soon noticed that their readers’ yearned for magazine articles that investigated the numerous dilemmas that plagued the American society at that time. The ground breaking journalists were labeled as “muckrakers” by President Roosevelt and often became a source of controversy within America’s political culture. Most muckrakers used their skills of descriptive writing to paint vivid and disturbing pictures of the lives many Americans were…show more content…
Many of the people that read these magazine articles could not begin to imagine the conditions that the lower class were having to work and live in. The journalists would describe the most horrid conditions possible in order to promote the change that they felt was necessary. In Jacob Riss’ article he describes how the dwellings that these unfortunate people had to live in caused countless deaths that could have been avoided. According to Riss, “With the first hot nights in June police dispatches, that record the killing of men and women by rolling of roofs and window-sills while asleep, announce that the time of greatest suffering among the poor is at hand.” (Riss Source 1). The previous quote shows that the tenement buildings that was popular housing for the lower class would become so unbearably hot that people would have to resort to sleeping in the most dangerous of places to find cooling relief from the poorly constructed structure. This journalist was trying to promote reform of the building codes for the tenement structures to create better living conditions for the lower class citizens. Another journalist described the unsettling conditions that children would have to work in that caused pain and suffering even to an adult. In John Sprago’s “The Bitter Cry of the Children” he gives his…show more content…
However, some people believed that the only way that people would begin to support the muckrakers call for change was if their writings were true and not embellished. The most famous of these people was President Theodore Roosevelt and he was a strong advocate for the change in society, but he believed it had to be a movement based on truth. President Roosevelt stated, “I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform or in a book, magazine, or newspaper, with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful. The liar is no whit better than the thief,” (Roosevelt Source 5). President Roosevelt is promoting the need for attacks on the people and institutions responsible for the country’s problems, but under the circumstances that the allegations are completely truthful. President Roosevelt goes on to explain that if the attacker is untruthful, he is then no better than the people who are responsible for the problems. Lincoln Steffens suggested reforming politics completely and making it into either a sport or profession. According to Steffens, “But don’t try to reform politics with the banker, the lawyer, and the dry-goods merchant, for these are business men and there are two great hindrances to their achievement of
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