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Raking up the muck

Posted by: | September 13, 2011 | No Comment |

In the late 1800’s, mostly cold hard facts were considered for news stories. At the turn of the century however, journalists were beginning to stray from objectivity. Finding the dirt of the story became more important than the where’s and they why’s.

The word muckraker was first coined by Theodore Roosevelt, who was president during this time. He derived the term from a 1678 publication called “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. Roosevelt referred to a character in the story that refused to look up from his muck-raking to receive a righteous crown.

“The Man with the Muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward with the muck-rake in his hands; Who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.” – from “Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

Roosevelt used his new term to refer to investigative reporters that he had trouble with. He had issues in dealing with reporters that he felt were trying to find a negative spin to put on a story.

Okay. So why does this matter today? Does muckraking still exist?

I say yes. The television show/website TMZ is a prime example.

TMZ took a legitimate news story in the Casey Anthony Trial and found the muck in it. Instead of focusing on any of the facts of the trial, the criminal case or the evidence; TMZ reports Anthony’s beverage of choice once she’s acquitted. Muck.

under: Comm 455, Uncategorized
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