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Sponsor a Muckraker: A History of Investigative Journalism
by Louis R. Jasikoff

Muckraker (noun) — An investigative journalist who seeks to expose corruption or scandal, especially in politics or public affairs.



In the era of “fake news,” journalism that is no more than commentary, and watered down investigations used to promote an agenda — along with polls that are meant to deceive — the need for honest investigative reporting has never been greater.

It is said the pen is mightier than the sword, and for journalists at the turn of the 19th century this was taken to heart with the birth of the “Muckrakers.”

While muckraking articles began appearing in the late 1800s, the January 1903 issue of McClure’s Magazine is generally credited with the launch of muckraking journalism. The term “muckraker” actually appeared later, initially in comments by President Teddy Roosevelt in a 1906 speech about journalism, when Roosevelt referred to a character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as “the Man with the MuckRake.” Originally used as a pejorative, the public came to embrace the term, as well as the work provided by these intrepid writers.

Although Roosevelt agreed with many of the charges made by muckrakers, he was also concerned that some of their methods might be irresponsible, especially when employed to criticize some of his policies. His sentiments on their tactics might be summed up best by this excerpt from that 1906 address: “There are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of an attack upon every evil man whether politician or businessman, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform, or in 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 names of the original muckrakers are iconic today in American journalism. Lincoln Stiffens, Nellie Bly, Ida M. Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, Jacob Riis . . . and the list goes on. Ray Stannard Baker published “The Right To Work” in a 1903 McClure’s Magazine article, an exposé on the lives of non-striking mine workers, and mining conditions in general, focusing on the coal industry right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

By 1910 the muckraking movement was waning in America. This can be attributed to the leveling off of competitive daily newspapers between the years of 1910 and 1920, and the peaking of magazine publication in 1910. Many of the magazines had also been purchased by corporate interests, including McClure’s, that wished to soften the content that they were printing.

Muckraker journalists also became splintered along political lines during the 1912 presidential campaign, some supporting Wilson, some supporting Roosevelt, and others backing Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs. The movement turned from investigating causes, social justice, corruption, and wrongdoings to political activism.

By the time the United States entered World War I in 1917, the era of muckraking had virtually come to a close in print, and the muckraking journalism and writings of Stiffens — typified by his description of Chicago and corruption in state politics in a 1903 article — and others had come to an end. “The police graft, the traffic of authority with criminals, gamblers, prostitutes, liquor dealers, all sorts of thieves, and some sort of murderers. The evil in Chicago was obvious, general, bold,” wrote Stiffens in his stinging indictment.

In the years to follow, true investigative journalism continued to decline, dropping to an all-time low in the 1950s. It had become easier for the press to report on the investigative work of others instead of investigating matters themselves. During the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal, it was widely reported that everyone involved was crooked, including the press. What eventually came to light was that the publisher of The Denver Post had accepted a $1 million bribe to suppress information.

With the advent of McCarthyism and the Cold War, Edward R. Murrow began to breathe life into real muckraking, investigative journalism in the early 1960s. It did not reach its peak again until the late 1960s and early 1970s. His television documentary Harvest of Shame, about the tribulations of migrant farm workers, was a prime example of muckraking.

Ralph Nader, Seymour Hersh, Woodward and Bernstein. They all helped lead the way in the early 1970s. Time magazine was prompted to call 1974 the “Year of the Muckrakers” after no fewer than four Pulitzer prizes were awarded that year for investigative journalism.

So what has happened to authentic investigative journalism — muckraking — since its most recent heyday during the 1970s? Is it merely a cycle that journalism and investigative reporting goes through? Has the influence of the corporate dollar repressed how the news is reported? Is the rise of muckrakers once again imminent? We here at the People's Independent Gazette believe that the time has indeed arrived, and are proud of our five-year history doing our best to report the facts as we have been able to attain them.

Seymour Hersh, one of those Pulitzer Prize winners in the 1970s for his reporting on the Mỹ Lai Massacre, has called the current American press pathetic. “I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control. . . . I saw it in the New York Times. . . . The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple,” said Hersh in an interview with UK media outlet The Guardian. Journalist and Constitutional attorney Glenn Greenwald, outspoken critic of mainstream media, has accused his reporting colleagues of failing to challenge those in political power and of discrediting anyone who dares to do so. In covering the recent leaks concerning the NSA, Greenwald had this to say: “We knew in particular that one of our most formidable adversaries was not simply going to be the intelligence agencies on which we were reporting and who we were trying to expose, but also their most loyal, devoted servants, who call themselves the United States and British media.”

Recent polls have certainly suggested (if they’re to be trusted) that the public’s faith in accurate news reporting is at an all-time low. The inability of mainstream media to gain the trust of the public is more apparent than ever. Perhaps the American people believe that the central role of a free and independent press — in a supposedly free society — is that of a government watchdog.



We at the Gazette have taken that sentiment to heart. We have been at the forefront of investigating local corruption, nepotism, and cronyism. We were one of the first to report on the LAG Towing scandal. We exposed nepotism in our “Kings and Queens of Wilkes-Barre” article in our third issue. Covering GasGate, BaloneyGate, a local credit union debacle, and the plight of Christians in Syria (as conveyed by Syrian immigrants in Allentown) are other accomplishments we could champion.

We have been a watchdog, not just of our politicians, but the media itself. We brought to light that a widely-reported Associated Press poll on economic policy was nothing more than a survey of their business writers, and we are leading the way on exposing the corruption taking place in our courts with exclusive coverage in our Custody for Cash series.

We will not bend to corporate advertising pressures. We do not regurgitate the news. Our stories and investigations are original.

So that brings us to today. Just as corporate pressures brought an end to investigative journalism in the early 1900s, the same insidious influence is now working to inhibit the fourth estate from being the watchdog, the protector of our freedoms, the light that needs to shine on corruption, nepotism, and cronyism.

In my recent interview with the Bertelsmann Foundation, I pointed out that it is “damn near impossible” to have a true and independent press. When you rely on corporate advertising, you are no longer truly independent, yet you need advertising to pay the bills to stay in business. If you investigate the courts, you won't find many lawyers or judges supporting your endeavors . . . look at medical malpractice and you won't see too many doctors advertising. Look at abuse by those in authority and you are universally hated, and, best of all, investigate corruption in politics, and you never know what comes your way. This is human nature, and we are not going to change that: businesses tend to shy away from any controversy simply because they cannot afford to lose one customer, let alone an entire segment of their customer base.

President Kennedy warned on April 27, 1961, in his address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, that "without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. That our press was protected by the First Amendment ... to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, to mold, educate, and sometimes even anger public opinion."

"No republic can survive." Strong words by Kennedy then, and perhaps even more pertinent today in the era of fake news and commentary. We cannot allow the greatest nation on earth to fall prey to lies, deceit, and information based on agenda rather than truth.

Be the difference and help us grow, marshaling investigative journalists whose only agenda will be to search out the truth, and not afraid to anger, to educate, and to inform the public of our dangers and opportunities. A trusted news source, no matter where the truth may lead us. That is our lofty aim.

Please consider becoming a monthly supporter. We can be reached at PO Box 214, Factoryville, PA, via our websites, www.ThePeoplesGazette.com and www.MuckrakerInc.com, or our funding page at
www.Patreon.com/Jasikoff.

Thank you.
Tiers
Thank You!
$1 or more per month
Civic information is the fuel of democracy and YOU have your finger on the pulse of what needs to happen. It is people like you that help others become better informed and take more responsibility for their own well being. THANK YOU!
Thank you, thank you, thank you !!
$3 or more per month
Without a free and independent press like Independent Gazette ~ Free Independent News, the full responsibility for public information and safety resides only in the government. This lack of public engagement can seriously undermine a country's security and economic growth.
Thank you 5 times over !!
$5 or more per month
Independent Gazette ~ Free Independent News will continue to function free & independently. Local newspapers, radio & TV stations are essential building blocks of democracy. Serving as watchdogs on local institutions & alerting the public to safety issues.
Thank you 10 times over !!
$10 or more per month
"Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed ~ and no republic can survive."  JFK
Thank you 25 times over !!
$25 or more per month
Independent Gazette ~ Free Independent News can act as a safety valve by offering a forum for diverse voices to be heard and you are a main contributor! Know that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and that freedom our goal together.
Thank You 50 times over !!
$50 or more per month
Independent Gazette ~ Always Free and Independent News wants to hire an Investigative Journalist to help hold government leaders accountable to the people, publicizing issues that need attention and bring it to the public. We want to hire and work with local colleges and journalist majors.
Thank you 100 times over !!
$100 or more per month
You must be the change you wish to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandhi  Thank you!
Thank you like too many times over !!
$250 or more per month
"Our press was protected by the First Amendment...to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate, and sometimes even anger public opinion." JFK
There has never been a time in our history when searching for the truth has been so vital.

Sponsor a Muckraker: A History of Investigative Journalism
by Louis R. Jasikoff

Muckraker (noun) — An investigative journalist who seeks to expose corruption or scandal, especially in politics or public affairs.



In the era of “fake news,” journalism that is no more than commentary, and watered down investigations used to promote an agenda — along with polls that are meant to deceive — the need for honest investigative reporting has never been greater.

It is said the pen is mightier than the sword, and for journalists at the turn of the 19th century this was taken to heart with the birth of the “Muckrakers.”

While muckraking articles began appearing in the late 1800s, the January 1903 issue of McClure’s Magazine is generally credited with the launch of muckraking journalism. The term “muckraker” actually appeared later, initially in comments by President Teddy Roosevelt in a 1906 speech about journalism, when Roosevelt referred to a character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as “the Man with the MuckRake.” Originally used as a pejorative, the public came to embrace the term, as well as the work provided by these intrepid writers.

Although Roosevelt agreed with many of the charges made by muckrakers, he was also concerned that some of their methods might be irresponsible, especially when employed to criticize some of his policies. His sentiments on their tactics might be summed up best by this excerpt from that 1906 address: “There are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of an attack upon every evil man whether politician or businessman, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform, or in 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 names of the original muckrakers are iconic today in American journalism. Lincoln Stiffens, Nellie Bly, Ida M. Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, Jacob Riis . . . and the list goes on. Ray Stannard Baker published “The Right To Work” in a 1903 McClure’s Magazine article, an exposé on the lives of non-striking mine workers, and mining conditions in general, focusing on the coal industry right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

By 1910 the muckraking movement was waning in America. This can be attributed to the leveling off of competitive daily newspapers between the years of 1910 and 1920, and the peaking of magazine publication in 1910. Many of the magazines had also been purchased by corporate interests, including McClure’s, that wished to soften the content that they were printing.

Muckraker journalists also became splintered along political lines during the 1912 presidential campaign, some supporting Wilson, some supporting Roosevelt, and others backing Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs. The movement turned from investigating causes, social justice, corruption, and wrongdoings to political activism.

By the time the United States entered World War I in 1917, the era of muckraking had virtually come to a close in print, and the muckraking journalism and writings of Stiffens — typified by his description of Chicago and corruption in state politics in a 1903 article — and others had come to an end. “The police graft, the traffic of authority with criminals, gamblers, prostitutes, liquor dealers, all sorts of thieves, and some sort of murderers. The evil in Chicago was obvious, general, bold,” wrote Stiffens in his stinging indictment.

In the years to follow, true investigative journalism continued to decline, dropping to an all-time low in the 1950s. It had become easier for the press to report on the investigative work of others instead of investigating matters themselves. During the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal, it was widely reported that everyone involved was crooked, including the press. What eventually came to light was that the publisher of The Denver Post had accepted a $1 million bribe to suppress information.

With the advent of McCarthyism and the Cold War, Edward R. Murrow began to breathe life into real muckraking, investigative journalism in the early 1960s. It did not reach its peak again until the late 1960s and early 1970s. His television documentary Harvest of Shame, about the tribulations of migrant farm workers, was a prime example of muckraking.

Ralph Nader, Seymour Hersh, Woodward and Bernstein. They all helped lead the way in the early 1970s. Time magazine was prompted to call 1974 the “Year of the Muckrakers” after no fewer than four Pulitzer prizes were awarded that year for investigative journalism.

So what has happened to authentic investigative journalism — muckraking — since its most recent heyday during the 1970s? Is it merely a cycle that journalism and investigative reporting goes through? Has the influence of the corporate dollar repressed how the news is reported? Is the rise of muckrakers once again imminent? We here at the People's Independent Gazette believe that the time has indeed arrived, and are proud of our five-year history doing our best to report the facts as we have been able to attain them.

Seymour Hersh, one of those Pulitzer Prize winners in the 1970s for his reporting on the Mỹ Lai Massacre, has called the current American press pathetic. “I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control. . . . I saw it in the New York Times. . . . The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple,” said Hersh in an interview with UK media outlet The Guardian. Journalist and Constitutional attorney Glenn Greenwald, outspoken critic of mainstream media, has accused his reporting colleagues of failing to challenge those in political power and of discrediting anyone who dares to do so. In covering the recent leaks concerning the NSA, Greenwald had this to say: “We knew in particular that one of our most formidable adversaries was not simply going to be the intelligence agencies on which we were reporting and who we were trying to expose, but also their most loyal, devoted servants, who call themselves the United States and British media.”

Recent polls have certainly suggested (if they’re to be trusted) that the public’s faith in accurate news reporting is at an all-time low. The inability of mainstream media to gain the trust of the public is more apparent than ever. Perhaps the American people believe that the central role of a free and independent press — in a supposedly free society — is that of a government watchdog.



We at the Gazette have taken that sentiment to heart. We have been at the forefront of investigating local corruption, nepotism, and cronyism. We were one of the first to report on the LAG Towing scandal. We exposed nepotism in our “Kings and Queens of Wilkes-Barre” article in our third issue. Covering GasGate, BaloneyGate, a local credit union debacle, and the plight of Christians in Syria (as conveyed by Syrian immigrants in Allentown) are other accomplishments we could champion.

We have been a watchdog, not just of our politicians, but the media itself. We brought to light that a widely-reported Associated Press poll on economic policy was nothing more than a survey of their business writers, and we are leading the way on exposing the corruption taking place in our courts with exclusive coverage in our Custody for Cash series.

We will not bend to corporate advertising pressures. We do not regurgitate the news. Our stories and investigations are original.

So that brings us to today. Just as corporate pressures brought an end to investigative journalism in the early 1900s, the same insidious influence is now working to inhibit the fourth estate from being the watchdog, the protector of our freedoms, the light that needs to shine on corruption, nepotism, and cronyism.

In my recent interview with the Bertelsmann Foundation, I pointed out that it is “damn near impossible” to have a true and independent press. When you rely on corporate advertising, you are no longer truly independent, yet you need advertising to pay the bills to stay in business. If you investigate the courts, you won't find many lawyers or judges supporting your endeavors . . . look at medical malpractice and you won't see too many doctors advertising. Look at abuse by those in authority and you are universally hated, and, best of all, investigate corruption in politics, and you never know what comes your way. This is human nature, and we are not going to change that: businesses tend to shy away from any controversy simply because they cannot afford to lose one customer, let alone an entire segment of their customer base.

President Kennedy warned on April 27, 1961, in his address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, that "without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. That our press was protected by the First Amendment ... to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, to mold, educate, and sometimes even anger public opinion."

"No republic can survive." Strong words by Kennedy then, and perhaps even more pertinent today in the era of fake news and commentary. We cannot allow the greatest nation on earth to fall prey to lies, deceit, and information based on agenda rather than truth.

Be the difference and help us grow, marshaling investigative journalists whose only agenda will be to search out the truth, and not afraid to anger, to educate, and to inform the public of our dangers and opportunities. A trusted news source, no matter where the truth may lead us. That is our lofty aim.

Please consider becoming a monthly supporter. We can be reached at PO Box 214, Factoryville, PA, via our websites, www.ThePeoplesGazette.com and www.MuckrakerInc.com, or our funding page at
www.Patreon.com/Jasikoff.

Thank you.

Recent posts by Lou Jasikoff

Tiers
Thank You!
$1 or more per month
Civic information is the fuel of democracy and YOU have your finger on the pulse of what needs to happen. It is people like you that help others become better informed and take more responsibility for their own well being. THANK YOU!
Thank you, thank you, thank you !!
$3 or more per month
Without a free and independent press like Independent Gazette ~ Free Independent News, the full responsibility for public information and safety resides only in the government. This lack of public engagement can seriously undermine a country's security and economic growth.
Thank you 5 times over !!
$5 or more per month
Independent Gazette ~ Free Independent News will continue to function free & independently. Local newspapers, radio & TV stations are essential building blocks of democracy. Serving as watchdogs on local institutions & alerting the public to safety issues.
Thank you 10 times over !!
$10 or more per month
"Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed ~ and no republic can survive."  JFK
Thank you 25 times over !!
$25 or more per month
Independent Gazette ~ Free Independent News can act as a safety valve by offering a forum for diverse voices to be heard and you are a main contributor! Know that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and that freedom our goal together.
Thank You 50 times over !!
$50 or more per month
Independent Gazette ~ Always Free and Independent News wants to hire an Investigative Journalist to help hold government leaders accountable to the people, publicizing issues that need attention and bring it to the public. We want to hire and work with local colleges and journalist majors.
Thank you 100 times over !!
$100 or more per month
You must be the change you wish to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandhi  Thank you!
Thank you like too many times over !!
$250 or more per month
"Our press was protected by the First Amendment...to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate, and sometimes even anger public opinion." JFK
There has never been a time in our history when searching for the truth has been so vital.