Teaching Students About Lincoln Steffens
Lincoln Steffens was an American journalist, lecturer, and general intellectual who was a prominent figure during the Progressive Era. He is most famous for his investigative reporting on political corruption, corporate wrongdoing, and social injustice in the United States, which not only won him widespread acclaim, but also inspired a generation of journalists who followed in his footsteps. In this article, we will explore the significance of teaching students about Lincoln Steffens and how his contributions have shaped the field of investigative journalism.
1. Background on Lincoln Steffens
Born in 1866, Lincoln Steffens grew up in a wealthy and influential family in Sacramento, California. After attending various prestigious schools and universities, including UC Berkeley and Columbia University, he started his career as a newspaper reporter. Over time, he gained recognition for his fearless reporting on corruption at various levels of the US political system.
2. Impact on Investigative Journalism
In 1904, Steffens published “The Shame of the Cities,” a series of articles investigating corruption and malfeasance in American municipal governments. His work laid the foundation for what would become known as “muckraking” journalism. By exposing corruption to public scrutiny through the power of his words and extensive research skills, he helped to increase transparency in politics and paved the way for progressive reforms.
3. Teaching Lincoln Steffens in Today’s Classroom
Given the importance of journalism in a democratic society, teaching about Lincoln Steffens is essential for fostering civic engagement among students and promoting an appreciation for journalistic integrity.
– Analyze primary sources: Students can read excerpts from key works by Steffens, such as “The Shame of the Cities,” to better understand his writing style and uncover firsthand accounts of corruption during the early 1900s.
– Historical context: Instructors can provide historical background on the Progressive Era to help students situate Steffens’ work within a broader cultural and political movement.
– Discuss ethical implications: Encourage open discussions on the ethics of investigative journalism and its role in challenging powerful institutions while protecting the public’s right to know.
– Compare with modern journalists: Students can research contemporary investigative journalists to assess similarities and differences in approaches, techniques, and impact on public discourse.
Teaching students about Lincoln Steffens is vital for cultivating an appreciation for the essential role that investigative journalism plays in holding powerful entities accountable and advocating for social change. By engaging with primary sources, delving into historical context, and discussing ethical implications, educators can empower students with a deeper understanding of the significance of Steffens’ contributions to American journalism.