The new reformed literature appeared in approximately mid-19th century, and the unique innovated kind of journalism started to appear around 1900. The American journalists in the period of reforms were called muckrakers. It is very important to understand who the muckrakers were, what their main objectives were, and what they wanted to reform.
Muckrakers are widely-known to be reform-minded people and they always wanted to reveal the truth. Their main objective was to keep alive their journalist’s ethics and to defend their journalistic freedom. Generally speaking, the muckrakers of the early 20th century were the writers who wanted to show the world as it was. That is why these writers were devoting themselves to revealing the truth and exposing all of the ills and abuses of that tie society. Usually writers wanted the world to look much better that it really was, but muckrakers had never tried to artificially make the society look better. These writers were devoting themselves to prepare the ground for the changes and reforms. They actually wanted to show how the journalism should function in a democratic society and that people should have access to full and trustworthy information. It is widely hailed that such label as muckraker was created by that day president Theodore Roosevelt. It can be said that Theodore Roosevelt approved of these writers. There are a lot of representatives of American reform muckrakers, among them Julius Chambers, Nellie Bly, Charles Edward Russell, Ambrose Bierce, Ida B. Wells and a lot of others.
First of all, it would be wise to mention the person who was the first muckraker. Lincoln Steffens is remembered and considered to be the first muckraker. Despite the fact that his work was published after the similar works of Jacob Riis and Nellie Bly he is still considered to be the first and the most famous. His article was published in the McClure’s Magazine. The name of the article was Tweed Days in St. Louis. This was the article where Lincoln revealed the information about the people who were running the government in the city and were stealing money from the inhabitants of the city. Generally speaking Steffens wrote a great number of articles about corruption. He was the first to ostend the information about the thievery. Steffens is known to be friends with the President Theodore Roosevelt as they both had this reformation nature. The next well-known person was Jacob August Riis. He wrote the book about the slums in the 19th-century New York City. He tried to reveal the truth about the murders and robberies, about poverty and filth in the slums. He was also trying to drown attention of people to the problem of poor conditions in New York’s tenement dwellings as well as to the topic of hardships that were faced by various European and Asian immigrants.
Upton Sinclair was another person who had a huge influence on people but he is not so much considered to be a muckraker. He wrote the book The Jungles. The author revealed the whole truth about meat packing industry. He had an objective to show the unsafe conditions in the industry and thanks to his work the Pure Food and Drug act was established. Generally speaking, the muckrakers revealed a great number of issues in the era of Progressive movement. They tried to pay their attention to such topics as child labor, working conditions, patent medicine and the monopoly of Standard Oil. These were the writers who were not afraid to raise any kind of social, ethnical or legal questions if people were concerned with them.
Who were the muckrakers? These were the people who believed in democracy and in fair play. They had a wish to do everything possible to solve the problems which existed in that day’s society. They decided to write the truth because the problem can be solved only if people are aware of it. Their main objective was to expose. They were not afraid to show serious defects in social and economic life. That is why they are called men of courage. They definitely had a positive effect on the course of events as a number of laws concerning children’s labor, corruption and oil industry were passed thanks to their unindifferentness. They were the ones who paved the way for understanding of democracy.