Modern-Day Muckraking and How the Blogosphere Has Negatively Effected Our Thinking
My name is Chloe Kent. I am an advocate for challenging ideas and ways of thinking in order to gain insight into people and society at large. Here is what I think:
Muckraking is a form of journalism intended to expose scandal or corruption, usually involving famous people or companies. During the Industrial Revolution, we saw the increased ability to disseminate information via railroads, newspapers, radio, books, and media.
During the Industrial Revolution, there was a huge jump in factories leading to more employment opportunities. However, because of the novelty of these factories and lack of policies to protect workers and consumers, safe working conditions plummeted.
Upton Sinclair, a muckraking journalist, decided to uncover the atrocious working conditions, mainly in the meatpacking industry. He wrote, "The Jungle," in 1906 exposing these malpractices. A quote from this document reads, "The great corporation which employed you lied to you, and lied to the whole country - from top to bottom it was nothing but one gigantic lie." You can sense the strong usage of words which facilitates controversial discussion.
Because of muckrakers like Upton Sinclair, we see a greater awareness of poor treatment of workers or unsanitary practices. Also, businesses feel more pressure to be transparent in their dealings.
In 1870, Louis Pasteur published the first clinical trials that were the precursors to modern-day vaccinations. His studies vaccinated against anthrax and certain fevers, saving countless lives.
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield supposedly published a scientific study linking vaccination to autism. This encouraged families to withhold vaccinations from their children thereby increasing the likelihood that they could contract fatal diseases and leave others susceptible to those illnesses who have yet to be vaccinated against them due to age or other circumstances.
In 2004, Wakefield's study was discredited completely because of his lack of evidence and false information.
Today, we have what is known as the "blogosphere." With the use of the Internet to share ideas, anyone can be a "journalist," despite a lack of credentials. This is the reason why Wakefield's study continues to be spread and many people still do not vaccinate their children, fearing they will become autistic. My sister has young children and is currently living in an area where Wakefield's ideas have been spread. This has caused us all to fear for the safety of her small children, especially her infant who has yet to be vaccinated due to age.
These homemade journalists often do not analyze their sources and state claims without sufficient evidence to support their ideas. Because of this, false information is propagated.
Along with the spread of inaccurate and sometimes dangerous information, we also tend to believe everything that we hear. By doing this, we begin to lack compassion for other humans. In a TED talk given by Monica Lewinsky, she ask us to "communicate online with compassion, consume news with compassion, and click with compassion. Just imagine walking a mile with someone else's headline." I believe that because of modern-day muckraking, we have forgotten how to come to accurate conclusions about what we think and how we act. This is important in order to keep ourselves safe and prevent unnecessary harm from coming to others both emotionally and physically.