McClure harnessed the power of journalism


The first 16 years of the 20th century saw the rise of a reform movement in the United States that affected all aspects of American social and political life. Much of the momentum came from the populists, whose party died out around the turn of the century.

While the populists had little support for their agenda outside the rural classes, the reformers of the Progressive Age were supported by members of the middle class and many individuals from the wealthy establishment.

The spectacular rise of large corporations during the Golden Age presented the urban middle classes, farmers and small business owners with two serious threats: How lucky did small businesses stand to survive in the unequal competition with big business and how far big business could go on government control itself.


Much of the progressive movement was an attempt to preserve small business as a way of life in the United States. popular articles the sordid side of business and political behavior.

Theodore Roosevelt is most responsible for the term “muckraker”. In two speeches in 1906, he compared the brilliant group of writers to the man with the rake in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim Progress, who was more interested in dirt on the ground than in a celestial crown, and called them ” nosy “. “

The vehicle for the muckrakers were the magazines produced in the 1890s. They were ephemeral pulp publications that occupied your time in a waiting room, commuting, or satisfying your curiosity about what moved society forward.

Popular magazines of the time were Everybody, Cosmopolitan, Colliers, American, Arena, and Pearsons. But of all the newspapers and magazines of the time, the most entertaining, exposing corruption and corruption and capturing the attention of readers, was McClure. It was also the most influential until its closure in 1931.

Irish immigrant

Samuel S. McClure, the magazine’s founder, was born in 1857, an Irish immigrant who had an electrifying personality and a volcano spirit that exploded with ideas at the rate of one per minute. From an early age, teachers recognized his abilities and encouraged his curiosity to learn.

When he was seven, his father died and left the family destitute. Her mother, wanting a better life for herself and the four boys, immigrated to America and then settled in Indiana.

Eager to go on to graduate school, Samuel headed to Knox Academy in Galesburg, Ill., And after seven years, he got his third place in a class of 30. He had no definitive plan for it. future, only great nebulous visions which flooded the ground of his brain.

McClure sold door-to-door microscopes, ran a bike lane where people came to learn the art of driving an elevated vehicle, and basically did whatever it took to make money.

Writing union

Finally, he established a group of writers who bought articles, stories and research from renowned authors, then sold the documents to newspapers across the country. By 1887 he was distributing 50,000 words per week to over 100 newspapers and magazines in the United States.

The union was so successful that in the 1890s McClure was preparing to start his own magazine. It would sell for 15 cents, attract money and educational readers, and contain four distinct sections: The Edge of the Future would feature scientists and inventors, Human Documents would feature famous people, Real Conversations consisted of oral interviews with good people. known, and the final section, Short Stories, featured the writings of accomplished authors.

Gifted writers

The first issue hit newsstands in June 1893. McClure magazine was a literary success, and its contribution to the reforms of the Progressive Age was due to the gifted writers who appeared in the pages of the magazine.

The magnetism of the McClure office symbolized the future. It was routine for everyone to write “The Chief” to request a position in the office. The magazine has built a reputation for unique and diverse journalism.

The McClure magazine family was built around Ida Tarbell writing extensively on Standard Oil and John D. Rockefeller; Ray Stannard Baker who investigated the Pullman Railroad strike; Lincoln Steffens who discovered the Saint-Louis scandal; and William Allen White, the Kansas editor, who captured the politics of populist causes. Staff intermittents like Burton Hendrick, Stephen Crane, George Turner and WS Porter (O. Henry) provided colorful fiction to McClure subscribers who reached 400,000.

McClure’s biggest competitors – Harper’s Monthly, Scribner’s Magazine, The Century and The Atlantic – have been left behind and heavily battered by entertaining reading and exhibiting articles on the justice of Review “Sam”.

The weather is changing

By the 1920s, the magazine industry that provided information and entertainment to the general public gradually lost its appeal. Thomas Edison’s moving images captured people’s imaginations, as did radio.

World War II patriotism gained a foothold in the public eye and criticizing mainstream progress was no longer in fashion. As reforms such as Standard Oil and the Pure Food and Drug Act were enacted, it felt like the mission had been accomplished.

Sam McClure’s magazine closed in 1931. He was part Citizen Kane and part Wizard of Oz, but above all, McClure was a flamboyant talent with self-confidence and a discoverer of writing talent. .

The retired McClure has lectured at clubs and universities and published three books that have failed to impress readers. He struggled to make ends meet when he fell under the spell of Benito Mussolini, praising the Italian dictator in public.

In 1944, he was awarded the Order of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. The “thin, gray man with stooped shoulders, whose speech and movements were still precise and rapid”, died on March 21, 1949, at the age of 92.

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