Tracing McClure’s Magazine from its meteoric rise to its dramatic combustion, Stephanie Gorton’s Citizen Reporters is a thrillingly told biography of a powerhouse magazine that forever changed American life and a timely case study that demonstrates the crucial importance of journalists who speak the truth. Book signing to follow.
The president of the United States made headlines around the world when he publicly attacked the press, denouncing reporters who threatened his reputation as “muckrakers” and “forces for evil.” The year was 1906, the president was Theodore Roosevelt – and the publication that provoked his fury was McClure’s magazine.
One of the most influential magazines in American history, McClure’s drew over 400,000 readers and published the groundbreaking stories that defined the Gilded Age, including the investigation of Standard Oil that toppled the Rockefeller monopoly. Driving this revolutionary publication were two improbable newcomers united by single-minded ambition. S. S. McClure was an Irish immigrant, who, despite bouts of mania, overthrew his impoverished upbringing and bent the New York media world to his will. His steadying hand and star reporter was Ida Tarbell, a woman who defied gender expectations and became a notoriously fearless journalist.
The scrappy, bold McClure’s group – Tarbell, McClure, and reporters Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln Steffens – cemented investigative journalism’s crucial role in democracy. From their reporting on labor unrest and lynching, to their exposés of municipal corruption, their reporting brought their readers face to face with a nation mired in dysfunction. They also introduced Americans to the voices of Willa Cather, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and many others.
--Stephanie Gorton has written for NewYorker.com, Smithsonian.com, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Toast, The Millions, and other publications. Previously, she held editorial roles at Canongate Books, the Overlook Press, and Open Road. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh and Goucher College’s MFA program in creative nonfiction, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with her family.