In uncovering truths and disseminating information, journalists shape the way the public understands world events. Ida Tarbell went to great lengths to gather information on her subjects, and her immersive reporting for McClure’s magazine—which Stephanie Gorton chronicles in Citizen Reporters—laid the foundation for the way members of the press work today.
Timothy Thomas Fortune’s identity as a black man in America informed his work as a newspaper editor and civil-rights leader, which is collected in an anthology edited by Shawn Leigh Alexander. The influential writer Walter Lippmann, who had insider access due to his close relationships with public officials, used his newspaper columns to influence U.S. policy, as Ronald Steel describes in his biography of Lippmann.
The journalist Yang Jisheng’s comprehensive book Tombstone investigates the 20th-century Chinese policies that caused one of the largest famines in history. And Jason Rezaian’s work as a correspondent in Iran for The Washington Post led to his 544-day imprisonment in the country, an experience he contextualizes in his memoir, Prisoner.
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The woman who made modern journalism
“Back when modern journalism was defining itself—before objectivity was a reportorial byword, before off the record and on background were terms of the trade, and before narrative nonfiction was common parlance—one of the leading practitioners of the bold new form of inquiry was Ida Tarbell.”