Subversive Voices: George Seldes and Mid-Twentieth-Century Muckraking

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This article situates the work of American press critic George Henry Seldes within the broader muckraking traditions in order to consider the ways in which he sustained critical and investigative journalism practices during the 1930s and 1940s. Seldes’s journalism is compared with the early twentieth-century muckraking movement associated with national magazines, which positioned journalists as national cultural entities concerned with the common good and able to shape public opinion and political action through their investigations of government and business wrongdoing. An examination of Seldes’s critiques and a review of the reception to his work reveal how the corporatization of the press and advances in technology transformed muckraking journalism. Muckrakers continued to use investigative techniques to highlight injustice and justify reform, but Seldes’s work demonstrates that those who crusaded too vehemently ran the danger of violating standards of impartiality and objectivity and having their work cast as radical and subversive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-441
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journalism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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