The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders

The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders

The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders

The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders

Synopsis

This collection of essays provides a critical and scholarly assessment of muckraking journalists at the beginning of the twentieth century. Contributors discuss how spiritual values led journalists to seek social change, through crusades and exposes, sometimes at the price of public confusion and cynicism. They explore how the richest church in America was forced to clean up its tenement houses, how a Buffalo newspaper crusaded for improvements in living conditions for immigrants, why women journalists were keys to civic improvement efforts, and how muckraking and the crusading spirit permeated the press even in small towns. The authors place these stories in the context of various facets of early 20th century American culture.

Excerpt

Robert Miraldi

The first time I was accused of being a "muckraker" was in 1975. 1 was reporting for the Staten Island Advance, a daily newspaper in New York City that circulated to 80,000 people. New York City was then embroiled in a scandal involving dozens of nursing home owners who, indictments had began to show, were stealing millions of dollars in taxpayer money. My job for many months, as the scandal had unfolded, had been to determine if the story had any connections to the local community. How were the dozen or so Staten Island nursing homes and their hundreds of patients affected by the scandal? Were their owners involved in the money tricks that seemed so widespread? One local owner, who operated Staten Island's best nursing home, ironically, had already been charged with stealing public money. A number of others had been linked to the one owner who had been identified as the mastermind of the money schemes and the kingpin of a cartel of nursing homes.

A special office within the state attorney general's office had been created. Sources there told me that the owner of Staten Island's largest nursing facility, who had not yet been implicated, was the target of their criminal investigation. A grand jury had been impaneled to hear evidence of his alleged wrongdoing. I was closely following the grand jury in search of leads, but I had come up blank and had written no stories that could explain where the investigation might be heading or what crimes had been committed. I decided I would simply write a profile, a biography of sorts, of the owner who was under investigation. For that, I would comb public documents he had filed with various government agencies, conduct interviews with resi-

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