By: Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Date: January 1900
Source: Wells-Barnett, Ida B. "Lynch Law in America." The Arena 23, no. 1, January 1900, 15–24. Available online at http://courses.washington.edu/spcmu/speeches/idabwells.htm (accessed May 23, 2003).
About the Author: Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931) was born to slave parents in Holly Springs, Mississippi, just six months before the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. As editor of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight after 1889, she became the most influential black female activist in the country and perhaps the world. Her antilynching writings included "Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases" (1892). Wells-Barnett helped found the NAACP in 1909 and criticized racial accommodationists such as Booker T. Washington.
The American news media of the 1900s strove to expose inequity in all facets of public life. While the most famous journalists of the period, so-called muckrakers such as Lincoln Steffens, investigated malfeasance in industry and government in the hopes of engendering reform, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and other African Americans created activist reports for civil...
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News Coverage of Natural Disasters
The Galveston Hurricane and Flood
Source: The Galveston Hurricane and Flood. 1900. Corbis, Image no. BE057194. Available online at http://pro.corbis.com (accessed June 18, 2003).
"Earthquake and Fire: San Francisco in Ruins"
By: The Call-Chronicle-Examiner
Date: April 19, 1906
Source: "Earthquake and Fire: San Francisco in Ruins." The Call-Chronicle-Examiner. April 19, 1906. Available online at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/images/uc005119.jpg; website home page: http://www.loc.gov (accessed June 18, 2003).
"San Francisco, April 18, 1906"
By: Arnold Genthe
Date: April 18, 1906
Source: "San Francisco, April 18, 1906." Library of Congress, Arnold Genthe collection, Image no. LC-G403-0271-D. Available online at http://lcweb.loc.gov (accessed May 28, 2003)....
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"'Tabloid Journalism': Its Causes and Effects"
By: A. Maurice Low
Date: March 1901
Source: Low, A. Maurice. "'Tabloid Journalism': Its Causes and Effects." The Forum 31, March 1901, 56–61.
About the Author: British by birth, Sir A. Maurice Low (1860–1929) wrote extensively about America, where he earned his master's degree. Low reported for the Boston Globe, performed policy research for the U.S. and British governments, and wrote dozens of articles and books, including the two-volume The American People: A Study in National Psychology. When Low died, he was the chief U.S. correspondent for the London Post in Washington, D.C., where he had lived for fifteen years. He was knighted after his death.
Today, tabloid journalism possesses a purely pejorative connotation. The term conveys substandard, biased, or salacious reporting. The public views tabloids purely as entertainment rather than as a source for well-researched coverage and insightful commentary. Originally, though, the term tabloid referred primarily to the newspaper's smaller-than-average size rather than its content. Tabloids appeared early in American history, but they exploded in the early decades of the twentieth century, as new printing methods...
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Political Cartoons Critical of U.S. Imperialism
"The Powers Celebrating the Fall of Pekin;" "Performing His Duty;" "Alligator Bait"
Date: August 1901; January 1902; January 1909
Source: Mayfield, R.B. "The Powers Celebrating the Fall of Pekin." The Bookman, August 1901.; "Performing His Duty." Brooklyn Eagle, January 1902.; "Alligator Bait." Detroit Journal, January 1909. Available online at http://www.boondocksnet.com/gallery/us_000600.html; http://www.boondocksnet.com/galleryus_020100a.html; http://www.boondocksnet.com/gallery/us_090100a.html; website home page: Zwick, Jim, ed. Political Cartoons and Cartoonists. http://www.boondocksnet.com/gallery/pc_intro.htm (accessed May 27, 2003).
The so-called American century began with the United States establishing its own empire to rival that of
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Did the New York Journal Kill President McKinley?
"Assassination a Good Thing!"
By: New York Sun
Date: September 8, 1901
Source: "Assassination a Good Thing!" New York Sun, September 8, 1901, 6.
"A Menace to Our Civilization"
By: New York Sun
Date: September 12, 1901
Source: "A Menace to Our Civilization." New York Sun, September 12, 1901, 6.
"Responsibility for Yellow Journalism"
By: New York Evening Post
Date: September 21, 1901
Source: "Responsibility for Yellow Journalism." New York Evening Post, September 21, 1901, 4.
The term yellow journalism arose from a cartoon character, the "Yellow Kid," which first appeared in the New York World, only to be transferred to the New York Journal once its owner, William Randolph Hearst, hired its author away from Pulitzer's paper. Yellow journalism, though, symbolized something far graver than the cheery...
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Our National Parks
By: John Muir
Source: Muir, John. Our National Parks. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1901. Available online at http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/consrv:@field(D... ; website home page: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ammemhome.html (accessed May 23, 2003).
About the Author: Born in Scotland, conservation pioneer John Muir (1838–1914) contributed to the founding of the U.S. National Park System and the modern environmental movement. Immigrating to Wisconsin in 1849, Muir studied at the University of Wisconsin then conducted various field studies of the natural world. His meticulous journals led to many books and articles detailing the need for nature preservation. Muir successfully campaigned for the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and helped establish the Sierra Club in 1892, heading the organization until his death.
The turn-of-the-century American press concerned itself with selling publications and with social reform. So-called muckrakers revealed corruption in business and government in the hopes of bringing change through public...
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"American Progress in Habana"
Magazine article, Photographs
By: National Geographic
Date: March 1902
Source: "American Progress in Habana," National Geographic 13, March 1902, 97–108.
About the Publication: The National Geographic Society formed in January 1888 to encourage exploration and the dissemination of geographical knowledge. The first edition of the organization's magazine was published later that year. The publication later expanded on its original plan, documenting exploration of remote regions of the globe to the outer reaches of the solar system and the universe. National Geographic offered dramatic photographic essays that brought the different peoples and places of the planet into the sight of ordinary Americans.
Improvements in printing and photographic technology enabled newspapers and magazines to publish more and more images at the turn of the century. Editors responded with countless drawings, illustrations, and photographs that gave readers an entirely new way of seeing the world. Ready to find any means possible of increasing circulation, the news media leapt at the opportunity to depict growing tensions between the United States and Spain as dramatically as possible. In certain instances, newspapers did more...
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The Great Train Robbery
By: Edwin S. Porter
Source: The Great Train Robbery (1903). Description and screen stills at The Library of Congress: American Memory, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/gtr.html; website home page: http://memory.loc.gov (accessed May 26, 2003).
About the Author: Edwin Stanton Porter (1870–1941) worked odd jobs for much of his youth. After U.S. Navy service, he worked with famed inventor Thomas A. Edison and began directing his own motion pictures. The Great Train Robbery, produced in 1903, placed Porter in the pantheon of American filmmaking and cemented the national popularity of motion pictures. Porter invented and developed critical techniques in filmmaking, but he never produced another movie comparable to The Great Train Robbery and eventually left directing to head a projector manufacturing company.
Thomas A. Edison and his associates produced the first motion pictures in the 1890s. Yet, public interest grew so rapidly that companies devoted to filmmaking began operating at the turn of the century. As technology advanced during the 1900s, audiences moved from single-person viewers...
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"The College of Journalism"
By: Joseph Pulitzer
Date: May 1904
Source: Pulitzer, Joseph. "The College of Journalism." North American Review, May 1904, 641, 678–680.
About the Author: Born in Hungary, Joseph Pulitzer (1847–1911) remains the most influential journalist in American history. His brand of newspaper publishing, dubbed "yellow journalism," offered readers titillating accounts of trials, trysts, and tragedy, but its foundation was investigative reporting and sharp editorials. Pulitzer's $2 million contribution to Columbia University helped create a graduate school for journalism and establish the Pulitzer Prizes. First awarded in 1917, the prizes soon became the most prestigious awards in journalism, while also honoring excellence in other creative fields.
A battle for the soul of journalism raged through the first decade of the twentieth century as journalists and the public wrestled with a number of questions: What is the purpose of the press? Should journalists strive for a seemingly impossible objective perspective on the world's events? Should popular taste dictate content, or must publishers tailor their news to suit the larger number of consumers?
Tensions between substance and...
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The Shame of the Cities
By: Lincoln Steffens
Source: Steffens, Lincoln. The Shame of the Cities. New York: Hill and Wang, 1904. Available online at http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5732/; website home page: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/ (accessed May 23, 2003).
About the Author: Lincoln Steffens (1866–1936) pioneered the 1900s journalism movement known as muckraking. Born in San Francisco, California, Steffens studied at the University of California at Berkeley, then in Germany and France. He worked for several New York newspapers before becoming managing editor of the muckraking journal McClure's. His articles on government corruption led to his groundbreaking and most significant work, The Shame of the Cities. Steffens' crowning achievement was his two-volume Autobiography (1931).
Lincoln Steffens began his research into municipal government and corruption as a police reporter in the 1890s. While covering the police beat, he befriended Jacob Riis, then a reporter for the New York Evening Sun and author of How the Other Half Lives (1890). This study of conditions endured by the city's...
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"Humorous Phases of Funny Faces"
By: J. Stuart Blackton
Date: April 6, 1906
Source: Blackton, J. Stuart, producer and animator. "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces." Vitagraph, 1906. Available online at Origins of American Animation, Library of Congress; http://www.americaslibrary.gov/sh/animation/sh_animation_bl... ; website home page: http://www.americaslibrary.gov (accessed May 27, 2003).
About the Author: Born in Sheffield, England, James Stuart Blackton (1875–1941) moved to the United States in 1886, where Thomas Edison's invitation to participate in a film, "Blackton, the Evening World Cartoonist" (1896), changed his life. By the end of the next year, Blackton had formed the Vitagraph Company for producing his own motion pictures. "The Enchanted Drawing" (1900) and "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" (1906) featured the first uses of animation techniques. Blackton lost a fortune in the stock market crash of 1929, and at the time of his death he was working as a carpenter in Los Angeles.
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"The Man with the Muck Rake"
By: Theodore Roosevelt
Date: April 15, 1906
Source: Roosevelt, Theodore. "The Man With the Muck Rake." April 15, 1906. Available online at Texas A&M University, The Program in Presidential Rhetoric. (accessed May 23, 2003).
About the Author: Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) shaped the modern chief executive's relationship with the press. The youngest U.S. president, he ascended to the office in 1901, at age forty-two, after the assassination of President William McKinley (served 1897–1901). Known for his boundless energy, Roosevelt had already been a rancher, assistant secretary of the navy, governor of New York, assemblyman, and sheriff. He had also written over forty books and had organized his own cavalry regiment in the Spanish-American War (1898). During his presidency (1901–1909), he promoted conservation and publicly fought against trusts. He also used American power to intervene in Latin America and its prestige to help negotiate peace between other major countries. Out of office, he continued to be a prominent voice in public affairs. He ran for a third term in 1912 as the Progressive Party candidate but was defeated by Woodrow Wilson.
President Theodore Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" characterized the...
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The Outlook and the Civil Rights Movement
"The Platform of the Niagara Movement;" "The Platform of The Outlook;" "The Negro Problem: Booker Washington's Platform"
By: The Outlook
Date: September 1, 1906; September 1, 1906; September 8, 1906
Source: "The Platform of the Niagara Movement" and "The Platform of The Outlook." The Outlook 84, September 1, 1906, 3–4; "The Negro Problem: Booker Washington's Platform." The Outlook 84, September 8, 1906, 54–55.
About the Publication: The Outlook developed from Christian Union, a religious journal created by noted evangelical leader Henry Ward Beecher in 1870 and edited by clergyman Lyman Abbott after 1881. Desiring to expand the journal's audience and reflect its support of progressive reform, Abbott renamed it The Outlook in 1893. Under Abbott, the weekly greatly expanded its circulation to more than 100,000 copies at the turn of the century. The journal's liberalism and desire to disavow any association with religious causes gradually reduced its popularity in the 1910s and 1920s, and it ceased publication in 1935.
Born to an enslaved mother in 1856, Booker Taliaferro Washington devoted his life to improving his family's condition in...
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By: Upton Sinclair
Source: Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Doubleday, Page, 1906. Available online at (accessed May 23, 2003).
About the Author: Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) campaigned for social reform for most of his ninety-year lifetime. He excelled in studies at an early age and entered City College of New York in 1892. After joining the Socialist Party a decade later, he embarked upon a distinguished, controversial career in muckraking. His most famous exposé, The Jungle (1906), investigated the Chicago meatpacking industry and led to passage of the Meat-Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Sinclair wrote more than two thousand published works and established himself as the quintessential radical activist/journalist.
Industrialization created great turmoil in American society. Fueled by massive European immigration, advances in machinery technology, and the move toward assembly-line production, enormous business corporations devoted more and more resources to heavy industry. The population of cities such as Chicago, the setting for The Jungle, swelled to unprecedented levels. Immigrant families settled in overcrowded tenements, working and living in grossly...
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The Christian Science Monitor
By: Mary Baker Eddy
Source: The Christian Science Monitor, Issue 1, 1908. Available online at Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, http://lcweb2.loc.gov (accessed May 27, 2003).
About the Author: Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910) overcame various personal trials to become the founder of one of the longest enduring American churches. In 1866, a healing event led her to reconsider the nature of God and the relationships among spirituality, the mind, and health. Devoting the rest of her life to her new theology, Christian Science, she wrote Science and Health (1875), which remained in print into the twenty-first century, and formed the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1879.
As Eddy's religious teachings grew in popularity at the beginning of the twentieth century, so too did criticism from within her organization, the press, and the public at large. Muckraking journalists and social commentators, most notably Joseph Pulitzer and Mark Twain, investigated the Church of Christ, Scientist, and wrote scathing reports on the group's internal dissension and Eddy's own mental stability. Perhaps partially in response to these media attacks, Eddy created...
(The entire section is 902 words.)