Background of the author
A professor at the University of Sonoma- California, in the United States of America, Dr. Carl Jensen is also an author of prominent publications in the field of sociology that have scaled to global heights. A few books under his name include “Censored: The News That Didn’t Make the News and Why (from1976 to 1996)” and “20 Years of Censored News (1997)”. In addition, Dr. Carl Jensen has also featured in Project Censored- a media research project in 1976 that attained international recognition.
Thesis of the book
The book delves into how the American society was adjusted to become more flexible to change. Change, as we know it, is a process that requires tremendous amounts of sacrifice and compromise in order to realize its full boon. It is in the nature of a human being to hold on to status quo than opt for change. That resistance that is existent in all human beings is a natural body armor that prevents the adversities of an uncertain future. Dr. Carl Jensen, the author of the publication, has made an immense contribution to the American society in the context of change. The book “Stories That Changed America” dissects the concept of change in the American society the through of several muckrakers namely George Seldes, Rachel Carson, John Steinbeck, Bernstein, I.F Stone, Woodward, and Upton Sinclair.
Like John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair’s works are pivotal towards the new America. Upton Sinclair asserts that management is essential to the society, and individual and hence cannot be disregarded. The move to use a novel as a tool for change was a pioneering implementation by Sinclair and gained traction over his rivals in the business. Through “the Grapes of Wrath”, the author holds that management is critical due to unpredictable effects of change. In any occasion, managers should be able to foresee challenges that may occur because of change implementation. This way they can set up proper mitigation strategies to cushion the impact if any. Using their experience managers should be able to convince stakeholders of the idea of change and their benefit from the course of action. To the citizens, leaders need to offer reassurance that their jobs and businesses will be safe before and after the change is implemented. Job security can be a defining factor of resistance for employees when in fact the change will make them realize better returns. Managing change in America is a sensitive subject because it needs to be holistic in covering the people and the underlying tasks. To achieve success in implementation and holistic attainment of organizational goals, good leadership character is paramount. Besides having a good educational background, leaders must exhibit exemplary interpersonal skills to enable them push citizens towards a common objective.
Another author that emerged in good time to save an ailing America that was weakening due to media Influence was George Selders. In writing the book “Truth and Journalism,” Selders sought to expose the truth that was in existence in journalism at the time. The book was a driving force in restoring freedom of the press. According to the author, Information is power, and any country that has the prospects of development must have information. Any retrogressive movement should be aired to the public for criticism, and any move to curtail that option should be rooted from its origin. Across many economies, developing and developed, governments want the media to portray a good picture concerning their development achievements and plans and not their corrupt deals and mismanagement of public offices. The author felt that the media houses were answerable to the public. They had the right to report gallantly on any issues that may be of interest to the public whether positive or negative.
A prominent author Rachel Carson in her book Silent Springs adamantly urges the world to stop using chemicals due to its detrimental effect on the ecosystem. The author shows great creativity in depicting in specific terms how humans, plants, and animals are affected by chemical usage. The ecosystem is composed of the three elements humans, plants, and animals, Rachel does a good job of showing their interrelationship, and how the three are mutually beneficial to each other in a healthy ecosystem. The author uses the concept of a fictitious town inhabited by plants, animals, and human beings; she proceeds to illustrate the effects of chemicals such as plants drying up and negative animal effect in the long run. In her dismay, the book is not all praised but received a fair share of criticisms as well. A section of the quarter advocated for the book’s ban. In the midst of all this tussle, the book landed in the hands of the late president John F. Kennedy. After a careful review of the book, the President saw fit that the book should receive much-needed praise, and he personally sought that he addressed the book’s requirements in restructuring America.
Investigative reporting and the free press are important to democracy because they act as watchdogs keeping watch over the society exposing wrong doings, sparking reform and changing minds thereby changing lives. In addition, they infuse the public with information, which fosters well-informed choices on critical matters. Muckraking has come a long way since the old days of monochrome photos distribution. James O’Keefe is a modern day muckraker who uses advent technology in his human activist endeavors. Mr. James is famous for audio and video recordings of large companies and organizations. James has gained a lot of support and criticisms as well from interest groups for his bold character of bringing to light illegal dealings by high ranked officials in these organizations. One famous occurrence was the ACORN (Association of Community Organization for Reform Now) incident in 2009. Mr. James poised as a boyfriend to a prostitute- her acting associate and through recorded video showed how employees of the large organization give advice on how to evade detection by authorities for child smuggling, tax evasion, and human smuggling. In effect, the congress later voted for the freezing of the organization's federal funding and other large corporates pulled out of the contract. In 2011, O’Keefe was in the spotlight again for similar antiques in exposing Medicaid fraudulent practices in many states. A video released in 2011 by a conservative group clearly showed the misdemeanor of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
In light of all the above, it is evident that Muckraking was very influential during the progressive 20th century. Muckrakers had the unwavering will to uncover truths, inform the public and were, therefore, pivotal towards the big reform. Without their part, many things would have remained hidden from the public eye and the United States would have been a different place today. Though very risky, these individuals undoubtedly have the capacity to bring change, and with the contemporary power and might of governments and organizations to gag the press, it is through these bold individuals that the truth shall be set free.
Allchin, D. Rachel Carson & Silent Spring. Debating Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, 2009.
Hussey, Michael. “Global Muckraking: The International Impact of Upton Sinclair’s the Jungle.” Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 34, no. 1 (2009).
Jensen, Carl. Stories That Changed America: Muckrakers of the 20th Century. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2000.
Keane, John. “John Keane : The New Muckrakers Are Challenging Democratic Institutions — in a Good Way.” Nieman Lab, 2012.