“Muckrakers” were reporters who, exploiting mass circulation journalism, attacked malfeasance in American politics and business. President Theodore Roosevelt gave them the name “muckrakers,” after a character in the book Pilgrim’s Progress, “the Man with the Muckrake,” who was more preoccupied with filth than with heaven. Popular magazines such as McClure’s, Everybody’s, Pearson’s, Cosmopolitan, and Collier’s published articles exposing the evils of American society—political corruption...
Ida Tarbell (1857–1944) was an investigative journalist who, in The History of the Standard Oil Company, a 1904 exposé published in McClure’s Magazine, brought to light the questionable legal maneuverings and business practices of the Standard Oil Company.
Jacob Riis (1849–1914) was a New York journalist and reformer. In 1890, Riis published How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York, an exposé describing the terrible living conditions in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. The successful book inspired public outcry for urban reforms.
Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) was a writer and muckraker whose 1906 novel The Jungle exposed the horrific and unsanitary practices of the American meatpacking industry. Sinclair, a Socialist reformer, hoped that the book would move the public towards socialism. Though it did not lead to a widespread socialist movement, The Jungle did prompt an investigation into the meatpacking industry and the Meat Inspection Act.