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Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

S. S. McClure, Father of Investigative Journalism

From its inception in 1893 until its demise in 1929, McClure's Magazine was a major force in American political life. Its founder, Sam McClure established the first mass-circulation magazine that routinely investigated the newly emerged big government and big business practices of the era. President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase muckrakers to describe their efforts. This paper examines McClure and the influence his major writers had on the issues of the day. It was in the pages of McClure's that Ida M. Tarbell exposed the perfidy of John D. Rockefeller in "The History of the Standard Oil Company." And here that Lincoln Steffens wrote about wide-spread political corruption in New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis through his series on "The Shame of the Cities." Here also where Ray Stannard Baker unveiled the problems of the working classes in "What the United States Steel Corp. Really Is." The work published in McClure's a century ago still stands as some of the first, and finest, investigative work in journalism. Ironically, it is work that also lead to the development of a new profession to try to disguise the truth and limit the impact of such work--public relations.

Presenter: Sarah Fannis (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Communication
Location: 107 Holmes
Time: 3 pm (Session IV)