ERIC Number: ED161030
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Mass Communication "Theories" of the Muckrakers.
Francke, Warren T.
While muckrakers such as Upton Sinclair, Ernest Poole, Thomas Lawson, and others chose individual approaches for their investigative reporting to the public, they shared some common assumptions about mass communication that influenced the operative impact of their views. In addition to adhering to a simplistic belief in the power of bare facts, these writers calculated the receptivity of their audiences, searched for the prime conditions to present their messages, and measured reader response according to indexes they devised themselves. Effective strategies included sarcasm in praising those who voted for dishonest politicians, pretended innocence in conveying startling facts, a tombstone photograph for a patent medicine fraud expose, and emotion-packed descriptions and insinuations. The muckraker studied public opinion, frequently commenting on its power and abuses, on how to predict it and how to measure it; the ultimate goal in investigative reporting was effecting a change in American society. Response was solicited directly, through requests for letters of complaint to the company or government agency responsible for the problem and through the endorsements of readers by increased circulation of the magazine or newspaper that printed the report. (MAI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (61st, Seattle, Washington, August 13-16, 1978)