"Muckrakers" were journalists who approached the problems of the industrial age by exposing them through their work. Using vivid, often lurid, language, they sought to bring abuses into the public eye in their journalism, which appeared in daily newspapers, journals, non-fiction books, and even novels. Some photographers—Jacob Riis, in particular—are categorized as muckrakers as well. Riis took dozens of photographs of the Five Points and other slums in New York City, and published them along with a narrative called How the Other Half Lives. The book was intended to get the attention of middle-class readers and show them the real lives of poor New Yorkers. Ida Tarbell's History of the Standard Oil Company described the monopolistic practices of John D. Rockefeller. Lincoln Steffens wrote about electoral fraud and machine politics in The Shame of the Cities. These men and women were a driving force behind Progressive reform, as they helped create popular support for it.
Frederick Winslow Taylor was also a Progressive reformer, in that he argued for increased efficiency in the workplace. He applied scientific thinking to social problems. Taylor undertook studies that tracked the behaviors and performance of people who worked in factories. He advocated the establishment of rules and processes that broke down tasks into very efficient and simple motions with a minimum of wasted time and effort. "Taylorism" became very influential in a number of fields. It was especially influential industries that saw in it a way to maximize their profits.
Taylor was a reformer in that he thought his system of scientific management might reduce work hours and raise productivity, which would in turn improve the lives of labor through increased wages. Where Taylor was most similar to the muckrakers was in his promotion of his system through a book—The Principles of Scientific Management—in which he described in fine detail the inefficiencies of industrial work and the ways that his methods could "clean up" the factories. His writing style, full of stereotypical and caricatured depictions of immigrant workers, sought to drive the point home.