Muckraking And Objectivity: Journalism's Colliding Traditions

Hardcover | May 1, 1990

byRobert Miraldi

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This timely study by a former investigative reporter zeroes in on the role of the journalist in a democratic society. Robert Miraldi explores the relationship between an objective reportorial stance wherein an audience is given verifiable, neutral "facts" and muckraking, when a reporter crusades on an issue to expose what he or she sees as evil. Including examples of muckraking from newspapers, magazines, and television, the volume traces the history of muckraking journalism and investigative reporting from the turn of the century, when a band of magazine writers were exposing political and business corruption, to the sixties and seventies when television and newspaper reporters continued the tradition of expose journalism. He locates the colliding traditions of journalism in democracy's demand that the press uncover crime and corruption while at the same time requiring that reporters observe the social process more than intrude. The collision between objectivity and expose informs this fact-filled study. The first chapter recounts Miraldi's experience as a New York City reporter tracking down illegal drug sales and offers an historical overview of muckraking journalism. Chapter Two analyzes the work of Ida Tarbell, David Graham Phillips, Samuel H. Adams, Will Irwin, Ray Stannard Baker, and Charles Edward Russell, six turn-of-the-century muckraking writers who were determined to be both objective reporters and partisan crusaders. The fall of muckraking journalism and its later reappearance with Edward R. Murrow's "Harvest of Shame" television documentary are the focus of chapters Three and Four. Chapter Five presents a case study of New York Times reporter John L. Hess' expose of NewYork State's nursing homes. Concluding with a look at factors that interfere with the work of journalists, Dr. Miraldi, in chapter Six, calls for a renewed spirit of activism as journalism enters the nineties. The book closes with a penetrating interview with Fred W. Friendly. This challenging history is must reading for scholars in journalism and mass media, practicing journalists and historians, students and teachers in college-level journalism and mass media courses, theory classes such as Press History and Mass Media in Society, as well as newswriting courses at all levels.

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This timely study by a former investigative reporter zeroes in on the role of the journalist in a democratic society. Robert Miraldi explores the relationship between an objective reportorial stance wherein an audience is given verifiable, neutral "facts" and muckraking, when a reporter crusades on an issue to expose what he or she see...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 9.6 × 6.32 × 0.75 inPublished:May 1, 1990Publisher:GREENWOOD PRESS INC.

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0313272980

ISBN - 13:9780313272981

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?Miraldi's well-written analysis of the role and purpose of the journalist in American democracy considers whether the journalist should be an activist reformer, a propagandist with a view, or an independent, neutral voice, presenting balanced facts, with opinions only from attributed sources, using standardized forms of presentations and focusing on officially sanctioned events. Three chapters discuss muckraking from the glory days around the turn of the century through its decline before WWI. Miraldi examines muckrakers' writing and technigues and the reasons for their decline. A chapter covers Edward R. Murrow and the 1960 CBS documentary A Harvest of Shame' and similar exposes by other networks and newspapers, which continue the muckraking tradition and demonstrate how objectively narrowed the exposes. Another chapter is about John L. Hess of The New York Times, who exposed in 1974-75 the plight of the elderly in nursing homes and how he combined objectivity or neutrality with subjectivity or activism. Miraldi concludes that journalists should be passionate and committed as well as factual. Objectivity is a straitjacket mentality' that decreases the range of information and opinion. Journalists should be allowed to reach conclusions and make recommendations or state opinions about the facts they have gathered. Extensive footnoting and an eight-page bibliography.?-Choice