Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: The Have Nots and The Media

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Have Nots and The Media

Throughout American history, various individuals have used Media (newspapers, telegraph, radio,etc.) to be the voice of the voiceless. Whether it was calling for the end of slavery in America to protesting against the reduction of T.A.P. (Tuition Assistance Program), the media has proved a means for advocating. As America was closing out the 19th Century, The population was growing at a massive rate. Urban Centers such as New York and Chicago were flooded with new immigrants daily. As a result of this massive immigration, places to live became hard to find. Resident buildings for immigrants were overcrowded due to the number of people living on top of each other. This housing problem became paramount due to the issues of health and sanitation which caused people to die from various diseases. One person who took a stand to display the conditions of the slums was named Jacob Riis. Riis was a well known photographer who would take photos of the slum houses in New York's Lower East Side as a way to illustrate the housing crisis affecting residents and new immigrants. The following is from the article, Flashes from the Slums: Pictures Taken in Dark Places by the Lightning Process:

It is a Pell street seven-cent lodging house, whose cots or beds or bunks or hammocks, partaking as they do of the characteristics of all three, are simply
strips of canvas stretched between beams, six feet apart. Mr. Riis has other
views of this place at night which are a revelation to those who are never there.

The snippet discussed this residence which basically had this long strip of material for residents to sleep on for seven cents a day. This kind of housing would cause the rapid spread of germs and diseases among those who resided there which would ultimately result in death. The goal of Riis was to have the upper classes in New York understand the extreme poverty that was taking place in the city. Riis' work in his time has become a stable in media today when it comes to exposing injustices within our society.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

Riis, like so many other progressive reporters of the era beleived he could expose the facts of corruption and move the public to support urban reform. The key point for this class is the idea of using the media to persuade a middle class public and goad them, or shame them into political action. It was a successful progressive strategy until after WWI.

3/19/2009 7:14 PM  

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