Chapter 3 – Truth Happens: An Age of Publicity Begins

As the 19th century drew to a close after the Civil War, America was in chaos. People lacked self-identity, or American-identity for that matter. After the war, America was in the midst of monopoly – and the middle class was dying from this. These Americans became obsessed with finding, or re-finding, their social and economic stability as things turned chaotic…

“This was a search for order.”

Amidst the rising debt of the majority and the replacement of machinery for people among private enterprises, life was dwindling. To add to the American chaos were the growing immigrants. Immigrants were often willing to provide much cheaper labor than the previously middle-class Americans. Not only did this increase economic problems for Americans, this caused national confusion: “What is an American? What is the American way of life? What is Americas’ future?”

In response to the above, beginning in the 1870’s, a group called the “Progressive Publicists” arose. This was a group of powerful journalists – including Edward Bellamy, Henry George, and Henry Demarest Lloyd – suggested the chance of order in the future. The angry and confused Americans looked up to these publicists, following their stories. Ewen explains how this group – along with the public – at the time considered publicity as a picking apart society and its “toxic” contradictions and enlightening them, as well as bringing them to order.

By the first decade of the twentieth century, these writers became widespread in mass-circulation magazines…helping concerned Americans everywhere. Their form of journalism was dubbed, “muckraking” by Teddy Rosevelt. Government officials and big monopolies did not like these journalists and their opposition to their actions. They knew these men were influencers of public opinion. muckrakerProgressive journalism, or muckraking, was used to shed light on the secrets of the institutional corruption, the greed, and the lack of concern for the majority of American’s future. These journalists displayed the true power of mass media.

            Today, there are many public influencers that have gone against the Government’s beliefs. Recently, Occupy Wall Street occurred in NYC. This was a major sit-in in which people protested many of the actions taken by the government within the financial realm. wall streetAs our government has bailed out many major financial institutions, and controversially treated major executives from these companies in favorable ways, some of the public has not agreed to this. Major opponents organized Occupy Wall Street to make a statement against these large forces, what they called the “1%”. They blamed the 1% for America’s economic situation, individuals’ poverty, and unemployment. This event shaped opinions in the public, swayed views, and gained followers. This event also helped some companies gain trust as the event bashed competitors with their influence. This was a very controversial event, in terms of varying beliefs, public interest, and even security reasons. Although controversial, like the muckrakers, it created stir, and and made news everywhere. The event was spread through many forms of media, one of the most effective: word of mouth. Although the sit-in has ended, the leaders of the group continue with follow-up via the internet and other forms of media. This is key in making a statement as I have mentioned before. Public relations is no one-stop-shop, it is constant communication. communicate