Culture and Recreation


What is muckraking journalism?

Muckrakers are journalists who seek out and expose the misconduct of prominent people or of high-profile organizations; they emerged on the American scene in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Crusaders for social change, muckraking journalists wrote articles not about news events, but about injustices or abuses, bringing them to the attention of the American public. Published in newspapers and magazines, the articles exposed corruption in business and politics. While the early muckrakers were sometimes criticized for their tactics, their work succeeded in raising widespread awareness of social, economic, and political ills, prompting a number of reforms, including passage of pure food laws and antitrust legislation. American politician Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) dubbed the controversial journalists “muckrakers,” a reference to a character in Pilgrim’s Progress (by English preacher John Bunyan [1628–1688]) who rejects a crown for a muckrake, a tool used to rake dung.


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