Muckraking!: The Journalism That Changed America


In collecting the kind of reportage that all too rarely appears in this age of media triviality and corporate conglomeration, Muckraking! documents an alternative journalistic tradition, one marked by depth of vision, passion for change, and bravery. From the Stamp Act to the abolition movement to the Vietnam war, from the fight against patent medicines to the elimination of labor spies, from the integration of baseball to the safety of government atomic workers, and from putting people in jail to getting them ...

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In collecting the kind of reportage that all too rarely appears in this age of media triviality and corporate conglomeration, Muckraking! documents an alternative journalistic tradition, one marked by depth of vision, passion for change, and bravery. From the Stamp Act to the abolition movement to the Vietnam war, from the fight against patent medicines to the elimination of labor spies, from the integration of baseball to the safety of government atomic workers, and from putting people in jail to getting them out, this book illustrates the great journalism that has made America a better country.

With more than 125 entries that range across three centuries, Muckraking! brings together the greatest moments of American journalism. Supplying historical context and critical commentary, the book also includes a selection of influential photographs and illustrations. By turns compelling and shocking, Muckraking! is an anthology for anyone who feels passionate about the heights that journalism can climb or its ability to illuminate the darkest depths.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This is not the first anthology of American investigative journalism, but it is almost surely the most varied, inclusive, and thoughtful. Judith Serrin, a former newspaper reporter, editor, and journalism professor, has teamed with New York University journalism professor William Serrin to select more than 100 examples of investigative journalism of the past 250 years from newspapers, magazines, broadcasting, and book publishing. The editors concede in an insightful introduction that the anthology is of necessity laudatory and subjective. However, the subjectivity is tempered by an emphasis on reporting that substantially contributed to political, economic, or social change nationally, regionally, or locally. The anthology is divided into types of topics investigated the poor, the working class, public health and safety, women's rights, politics, race, sports, conservation, war, criminal justice, the media, and two catchall categories labeled muckraking and Americana. All entries within each category are presented chronologically and are introduced with one or more paragraphs that provide background on the journalist showcased and the context of that journalist's quest for truth. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Steve Weinberg, Columbia, MO Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Reminding readers and aspirants to media jobs that there was a time when journalism was used to make life better rather than merely to sell products or policies, 72 articles from the 19th and 20th centuries campaign for the poor, the working class, public health and safety, women's suffrage, political and economic reform, black freedom, and equality in sports. They are not indexed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
A dazzling collection of some of the most significant examples of US investigative journalism of the past 250 years. William Serrin (Journalism/NYU; Homestead, 1992) and former editor and reporter Judith Serrin present, with a compelling combination of virtuosic editing and dogged research, a reference of great impact. From Jacob Riis's late-19th-century story on "How the Other Half Lives" to an eyewitness report of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire to Larry Kramer's breaking story on AIDS to a transcript of the first TV report on the Ford/Firestone tire debacle, the authors serve up the high points of American reportage. Stories go as far back as a 1765 reaction to the Stamp Act, and are organized by such topics as "The Poor," "Public Health and Safety," "Politics," "Muckraking," "Sports," "America at War," "The Press," and "Americana," among others. A few paragraphs of context appear at the beginning and end of each piece: a 1952 Reader's Digest article, "Cancer by the Carton," for example, comes with the information that the publication took no advertising at the time and therefore was "immune to the considerable pressures of tobacco company advertisements, and became the only mainstream periodical to crusade against smoking." Not every story bears the same moral weight: Tom Wolfe's Esquire article on stock-car racing is cited as groundbreaking for its role in creating a new kind of journalism. Nonetheless, almost every piece demands to be read, and many retain their power to shock or stir-although in many cases the stories themselves and the issues raised are well-known, as are the decades, even centuries, of consequences that followed. Wholly absorbing, intensely illuminating.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565846814
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 1,447,721
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Serrin has been a professor of journalism and a newspaper reporter and editor for several publications, most recently the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau.

William Serrin, a former labor and workplace correspondent for the New York Times, is an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU. He is the author of several books, including Homestead: The Glory and Tragedy of an American Steel Town, and editor of The Business of Journalism (The New Press).

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Table of Contents

The Poor
Jacob Riis Tells How the Other Half Lives. Scribner's, 1890 1
Edwin Markham Writes of the Horrors of Child Labor. Cosmopolitan, September 1906 4
McClure's Magazine Tells How Young Women Are Turned to Prostitution. McClure's, November 1909 7
John Steinbeck Introduces America to the Plight of California Migrants. San Francisco News, October 1936 9
The Daytona Beach Morning Journal Spotlights the Ills of City's Slum Housing. June 18 and 19, 1957 12
The Other America: Michael Harrington Reminds the Country of the Hidden Poor. The Other America, 1962 15
Voice from the Hollows: Homer Bigart Writes of Poverty in Appalachia and Sets Off a War on Poverty. New York Times, October 20, 1963 18
The Working Class
Labor Journalist John Swinton Demands Justice for Working People and Keeps the Idea of Unions Alive. John Swinton's Paper, May 1884 23
Old Age at Forty: John A. Fitch Attacks Steel's Twelve-Hour Day and Twenty-Four-Hour Turn. American Magazine, March 1911 25
William G. Shepherd of the United Press Describes the Horrors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. United Press, May 27, 1911 29
Edward Levinson Lets a Strikebreaker Convict Himself in His Own Words. New York Post, October 25, 1934 31
The New Masses Reveals Deaths from Silicosis in Hawk's Mountain Tunnel Project. New Masses, January 15, 1935 34
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Assigns Blame for the Centralia Mine Disaster. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 30, 1947 37
Mary Heaton Vorse Exposes Corruption on the New York Waterfront. Harper's, April 1952 39
United Mine Workers Journal Forces Federal Government to Name a New Mine Safety Official. United Mine Workers Journal, July 1-15, 1974 43
Public Health and Safety
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper Attacks the Swill Milk That Was Killing New York Children. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, May 8, 1858 47
The San Francisco Examiner Has a Reporter Jump Overboard to Bring Harbor Ferry Safety. San Francisco Examiner, September 2, 1888 50
The Chicago Tribune Brings Safer Fourth of July Celebrations. Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1899 52
The Reader's Digest Breaks the Silence on Cigarettes and Death. Reader's Digest, December 1952 54
Ralph Nader and The Nation Open the Fight for Automobile Safety. The Nation, April 11, 1959 56
Nick Kotz of the Des Moines (Iowa) Register Finds Loopholes in Federal Meat Laws. Des Moines Register, July 16, 1967 59
Blacks as Guinea Pigs: The Associated Press Uncovers the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Associated Press, July 25, 1972 63
"Pinto Madness": Mother Jones's Mark Dowie Says Ford Motor Company Puts Costs Above Safety. Mother Jones, September-October 1977 66
Larry Kramer Issues a Call for Action Against AIDS. New York Native, March 14-27, 1983 70
Randy Shilts Reveals That Rock Hudson Has AIDS and the Public Attitude Toward the Disease Begins to Change. San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 1985 74
Guinea Pigs of the Atomic Age: A New Mexico Reporter Breaks Government Silence. Albuquerque Tribune, November 15, 1993 76
A Houston Television Station Reveals the Pattern of Ford-Firestone Deaths. Station KHOU, Houston, February 7, 2000 79
Women, their Rights, Nothing Less
A Meeting Is Called, and the Fight for Women's Suffrage Begins. Seneca County Courier, July 14, 1848 83
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Revolution Saves a Woman Accused of Infanticide from the Gallows. The Revolution, 1869 85
The New Republic Takes Up Margaret Sanger's Crusade for Birth Control. New Republic, March 6, 1915 86
Betty Friedan Writes of Limited Roles for Women and begins a Revolution. The Feminine Mystique, 1963 89
A New Kind of Women's Magazine Brings the Karen Silkwood Story to the Public. Ms., April 1975 92
The Newport (Virginia) Mercury Publishes the Virginia Resolves and Sets America on the Course to Independence. Newport Mercury, June 24, 1765 97
"King of Frauds": The New York Sun Exposes the Credit Mobilier. New York Sun, September 4, 1872 99
Presidential Campaign of James G. Blaine Falters on Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion. New York World, October 30, 1884 102
Muckraker David Graham Phillips Tells How the U.S. Senate Has Been Bought by the Monied Interests. Cosmopolitan, March 1906 105
Collier's Magazine Helps Break the Power of Speaker Joe Cannon. Collier's, May 23, 1908 109
Young Journalist Edgar Snow Visits the Chinese Communists' Rural Strongholds and Introduces the Chinese Communists to the West. Red Star Over China, 1937 113
Columnist Drew Pearson Turns the Tables on a McCarthyite Congressman. "Washington Merry-Go-Round," August 4, 1948 118
Breaking from the "Silent Press," the Seattle Times Fights Anti-Communism and Saves a Professor's Job. Seattle Times, October 21, 1949 119
Edward R. Murrow Defends an Air Force Lieutenant Unjustly Tarred in Anti-Communist Attacks. See It Now, CBS, October 20, 1953 122
The Los Angeles Times Reports on the John Birch Society and Takes a Step Toward Becoming a Major American Newspaper. Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1961 128
Life Magazine Brings Down a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Life, May 9, 1969 130
Two Young Washington Post Reporters Follow the Money and Force the Resignation of a President. Washington Post, August 1, 1972 132
The Miami Herald Finds Voter Fraud and Forces a Mayor from Office. Miami Herald, January 11, 1998 135
Helen Hunt Jackson Writes in Defense of Native Americans When Few Others Care. A Century of Dishonor, 1885 139
Nellie Bly Spends Ten Harrowing Days in a Mad-House. New York World, October 16, 1887 142
Lincoln Steffens Exposes the Shame of a City. McClure's, January 1903 146
Muckraker Ida M. Tarbell Takes on John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company. McClure's, 1904 151
McClure's Magazine Brings Increased Regulation of America's Railroads. McClure's, December 1905 154
The World-Telegram and Sun Does the Impossible and Stops Power Broker Robert Moses. World-Telegram and Sun, July 30, 1956 158
Jessica Mitford Puts Funeral Directors Under New Scrutiny. The American Way of Death, 1963 160
Seymour M. Hersh Reveals Illegal C.I.A. Spying in America. New York Times, December 22, 1974 164
Secrets of the Parish: The National Catholic Reporter Unveils the Hidden Story of Priests Molesting Children. National Catholic Reporter, June 7, 1985 168
William Lloyd Garrison Announces Publication of Abolitionist Paper and Says "I Will Be Heard." The Liberator, 1831 173
Illinois Editor Elijah Lovejoy Attacks Slavery and Is Shot to Death. The Observer, 1837 175
The Most Respected Black Man in America Demands That Slavery Must End and Says Blacks Must Serve in Union Army. Frederick Douglass' Paper, June 2, 1854. Douglass' Monthly, October 1862, April 1863 177
Solitary Voice: Ida B. Wells Attacks Lynchings. Southern Horrors, Lynch Law in All Its Phases, 1892 179
A Report on a Race Riot in Illinois Brings Founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Independent, September 1908 182
Condemning the "Rope and Faggot" of the South, the Chicago Defender Helps Create the Great Migration. Chicago Defender, October 7, 1916 185
The New York World Unveils the New Ku Klux Klan. New York World, September 6, 1921 188
John Howard Griffin Makes Himself Black to Experience Being a Negro in the South. Sepia. April to September, 1960 192
A White Southern Editor Stands Up for Justice in Racist South. Lexington (Mississippi) Advertiser, June 13, 1963 195
The Detroit Free Press Reveals Needless Killings in 1967 Race Riot. Detroit Free Press, September 3, 1967 196
Ghosts of Mississippi: The Jackson Clarion-Ledger Reopens the Case of the Medgar Evers Murder. Clarion-Ledger, October 1, 1989 200
The Chicago Tribune Demands Reforms to Stop the Deaths and Carnage in College Football. Chicago Tribune, November 26, 1905 203
Say It Ain't So: Hugh Fullerton Charges That the Chicago White Sox Threw the 1919 World Series. Chicago Herald and Examiner, October 6, 1919 205
The Black and Communist Press Lead the Way to Integration of Baseball. The Daily Worker, March 7, 1945. Pittsburgh Courier, April 21, 1945 207
The New York Herald Tribune Stops Baseball Players' Strike Over Jackie Robinson. New York Herald Tribune, May 9, 1947 211
"Cage Star's Story of 'Fix'": The New York Journal-American Cracks a Basketball Betting Scandal and Shocks American Sports. New York Journal-American, January 18, 1951 213
Jim Bouton Writes Honestly About Baseball and Changes Sports and Sports Writing. Look, June 2, 1970 216
St. Paul Pioneer Press Reveals Academic Cheating in U-Minnesota Basketball Program. St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 10, 1999 219
William Bartram Journeys Through the Wilderness in Early America. Travels, 1791 223
The New York Tribune Asks That the Adirondacks Be Saved. New York Tribune, September 2, 1883 225
George Bird Grinnell Defends Birds from the Demands of Fashion. Forest and Stream, February 11, 1886 227
John Muir Demands Protection of the Yosemite Valley. Century, August 1890 229
Promising He Doesn't Have to Come to the Office (That Would be Like "Putting a Grizzly Into a Swallow-tail and Patent-Leather Pumps"), The Ladies' Home Journal Hires Naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton and Thereby Helps Create the American Boy Scouts. Ladies' Home Journal, May 1902 232
An Urban Planner Creates the Appalachian Trail. Journal of the American Institute of Architects, October 1921 236
Bernard DeVoto Says the West Belongs to All. Harper's, January 1947 240
The Writings of Marjory Stoneman Douglas Win Friends for the Everglades. The Everglades: River of Grass, 1947 244
Sigurd F. Olson and Harold H. Martin Plea for Protection of the Quetico-Superior Wilderness. Saturday Evening Post, September 25, 1948 247
Challenging the Washington Post, Justice William O. Douglas Takes Editorial Writers on a Hike and Saves the C & O Canal. Washington Post, January 3, and 19, 1954 250
Rachel Carson Creates a Firestorm by Saying That Pesticides Are Killing Birds and Mammals. Silent Spring, 1962 252
Editor Les Line and New Reporters Reinvigorate Audubon Magazine. Audubon, March 1975 255
America at War
Isaiah Thomas Reports the Battles at Lexington and Concord, and the American Revolution Begins. Massachusetts Spy, May 3, 1775 261
"Sunshine Soldiers and Summer Patriots": Thomas Paine Helps Form a Nation. January 10, 1776 264
George W. Smalley Covers the Battle of Antietam and Elevates American War Reporting. New York Tribune, September 1862 269
Century Magazine Publishes "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," Saves General Grant from Bankruptcy, and Creates Interest in the Civil War that the United States Had Seemed It Wished to Forget. Century, November 1884 to November 1887 273
James Creelman of the New York World Reveals Horrors in Japanese Conquest of Port Arthur, Manchuria. New York World, December 12, 1894 280
This Is London: Edward R. Murrow on Radio Describes the German Blitz. CBS Radio, September 25, 1940 281
The Holocaust Exposed: How Could the World Not Know? Jewish Frontier, November 1942, New York Herald Tribune, May 1, 1945 283
As Helicopters Round Up a Handful of Vietcong Soldiers, David Halberstam Sees "An Endless, Relentless War." The Making of a Quagmire, 1965 288
Seymour M. Hersh and the Dispatch News Service Reveal the Killings at My Lai and Another Tragedy of the Vietnam War. Dispatch News Service, November 13, 1969 294
The New York Times Publishes the Pentagon Papers and Explains a War. New York Times, June 13, 1971 296
Roy Gutman of Newsday Uncovers Bosnian Death Camps. Newsday, August 2, 1992 302
The Press
The John Peter Zenger Case: The Truth Shall Make You Free. New-York Weekly Journal, August 18, 1735 305
The First Penny Paper: The New York Sun Announces a Paper for All New Yorkers. New York Sun, September 3, 1833 306
James Gordon Bennett Talks to a Madam and Creates a Journalism Practice: the Interview. New York Herald, June 4, 1836 307
A Muckraking Magazine Reveals the Truth Behind Patent Medicines. Collier's, November 4, 1905 309
Columnist Heywood Broun Demands Formation of a Newspaper Union. New York World-Telegram, August 7, 1933 315
Chicago Daily News Identifies Editors on State Payroll. Chicago Daily News, April 14, 1949 317
Jack Gould Forces the New York Times to Stop Its Reporters and Editors from Accepting Christmas Gifts and Junkets. New York Times, October 27, 1959 319
New York Times Reporter A. H. Raskin Gets Times Labor Relations Negotiator to Resign. New York Times, April 1, 1963 321
Esquire Magazine Publishes a New Kind of Nonfiction Reporting and Changes American Magazines and Books. Esquire, March 1965 325
Three Reporters Who Lied - and Got Caught. Philadelphia Magazine, April 1967. Detroit Free Press, May 23, 1973. Washington Post, April 19, 1981 328
Reporters Avenge the Killing of Their Colleague. Investigative Reporters and Editors, series beginning March 13, 1977 334
The American Journalism Review Takes on the Issue of Reporters Accepting Speaking Fees. American Journalism Review, May 1994 338
Crime and Punishment
Everybody's Magazine Stops the Leasing of Convicts from Georgia Prisons. Everybody's, June 1908 343
The Ponzi Scheme Is Exposed, and a New Term Is Added to the American Vocabulary. Boston Post, August 11, 1920 346
The United Press Asks a Question and Creates a Tradition: the FBI's Most-Wanted List. United Press, February 7, 1949 349
Ronnie Dugger of the Texas Observer Covers Night-Rider Shootings of Three Black Youths and Helps Set the Observer on Its Way as a Liberal Voice in Conservative Texas. Texas Observer, November 2, 1955 350
Justice and Injustice: The Reporter as Criminal Investigator. Chicago Daily News, May 31, 1924. Houston Post, November 4, 1963. Miami Herald, February 5, 1967 352
The Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser Tells How Experimental Drugs Are Tested on Prison Inmates. Montgomery Advertiser, January 10, 1969 358
The Philadelphia Inquirer Breaks Police Silence on Dubious Confessions. Philadelphia Inquirer, 1977 360
Reginald Stuart in Emerge Magazine Writes of Unfairness of Mandatory Minimum Sentences, and a Woman Is Freed from Prison. Emerge, May 1996 363
Northwestern University Student Journalists Free an Innocent Man from Death Row. 1999 367
Gold in California. California Star, June 10, 1848. New York Herald, September 15, 1848 371
Horace Greeley Goes West and Calls for Construction of a Transcontinental Railroad. New York Tribune, October 1859 374
Sarah Josepha Hale and Godey's Lady's Book Convince Lincoln to Create Thanksgiving. Godey's Lady's Book, September 1863 377
Not Waiting for Millionaires, Joseph Pulitzer Asks His Readers for Pennies, Nickels, and Dimes to Erect the Statue of Liberty. New York World, March 16, 1885 379
The Village Voice's Richard Goldstein Takes the New Pop Scene Seriously and Helps Introduce America to a New Art Form, Rock Music, and to Itself. Village Voice, 1968 381
The Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald Holds Its Community Together After a Disastrous Flood. Grand Forks Herald, April 27, 1997 384
An Afterword 387
Permissions 389
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