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  • Jack Anderson (1922 - 2005)
    Jack Northman Anderson was an American newspaper columnist, syndicated by United Features Syndicate, considered one of the fathers of modern investigative journalism. Anderson won the 1972 Pulitzer Pri...
  • Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847 - 1903)
    Demarest Lloyd (May 1, 1847 – September 28, 1903) was a 19th-century American progressive political activist and pioneer muckraking journalist. He is best remembered for his exposes of the Standard Oil...
  • Jack London (1876 - 1916)
    Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, and social activist. A pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction, he was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide...
  • John Sanborn Phillips (1861 - 1949)
    Sanborn Phillips (1861–1949) attended Knox College in Illinois, where he worked on the student newspaper. He met S. S. McClure there and the two went on to found the famous McClure's Magazine in 1893, ...
  • William Allen White (1868 - 1944)
    William Allen WHITE (1868-1944), author, journalist, war correspondent (1939-1941), Pulitzer Prize recipient (1923), editor and proprieter of the Emporia Gazette (1895-1944), married in 1893 to Sallie ...


The term muckraker refers to reform-minded journalists who wrote largely for all popular magazines and continued a tradition of investigative journalism reporting; muckrakers often worked to expose social ills and corporate and political corruption. Muckraking magazines—notably McClure's of publisher S. S. McClure—took on corporate monopolies and crooked political machines while raising public awareness of chronic urban poverty, unsafe working conditions, and social issues like child labor.

The muckrakers are most commonly associated with the Progressive Era period of American history. The journalistic movement emerged in the United States after 1900 and continued to be influential until World War I, when the movement came to an end through a combination of advertising boycotts, dirty tricks and "patriotism."

Before World War I, the term "muckraker" was used to refer in a general sense to a writer who investigates and publishes truthful reports to perform an auditing or watchdog function. In contemporary use, the term describes either a journalist who writes in the adversarial or alternative tradition, or a non-journalist whose purpose in publication is to advocate reform and change. Investigative journalists view the muckrakers as early influences and a continuation of watchdog journalism.

The term is a reference to a character in John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's Progress, "the Man with the Muck-rake" that rejected salvation to focus on filth. It became popular after President Theodore Roosevelt referred to the character in a 1906 speech; Roosevelt acknowledged that "the men with the muck rakes are often indispensable to the well being of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the muck..."

Early 20th century muckraking

Muckrakers and their works

Second half of the 20th century