Jacob Riis How The Other Half Lives Summary

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In an era immersed in the sensationalism of yellow journalism, which strongly focused on quantity over quality, Jacob Riis certainly made his own eye-catching news through his raw and groundbreaking forms of investigative and photojournalistic reporting. Riis, a Danish-American immigrant, had many minor jobs working for smaller publications but he was able to develop his skills as a one of the earliest reformist journalists when he worked for the New York Tribune. In his well-praised book How the Other Half Lives, Riis exposes the truth behind the poor living conditions in the slums of New York City in order to inform the upper-and middle class citizens living in the city during the late 1800s. Through unique and innovative journalistic and…show more content…
The book was comprised of various ways to express his message, especially by “employing unsentimental storytelling, reportage, social statistics and the latest advances in flash photography.” The book was groundbreaking because it was able to get its message to the reader in new and impactful ways that had hardly ever been done before. Riis was able to establish his stance on social change due to his extensive investigative reporting. Muckraking was a leading cause of governmental reform as it dealt with uncovering social and political corruption. It undermined the power of corporations and businesses and proved that they were not above the citizens. The book was able to establish a strong legacy through Riis’s attempts to uncover the truth and test those who hold themselves to higher standards. The writings and photographs “stimulated the first significant New York legislation to curb tenement house evils.” As one of the earliest reformist journalists, Riis was able to accomplish his goals for social and political reform and the book led to years of improvement in Lower East Side living conditions. Although Riis’s work was highly praised among many social and political advocates that shared and respected his ideas, there were those who criticized the way he went about achieving his goals. Some noticed his “insensitivity…show more content…
Riis’s book was one of many pieces of journalism that consisted of various photographs that used the then unparalleled technique of flash photography. “In the late 1880s, [Riis] brought magnesium-flash photography into some of the darkest and most troubled spots in New York City.” By providing visual evidence to expose the truth behind the environments of the tenements, he invited his audience to experience the reality of the housing-system. Riis’s photos embarked on a new sense of realism through its capture of the painful expressions of those living in the tenements. These photos themselves solidified Riis as a master of the technique. In the public eye, Riis was considered a hero for his efforts, “Theodore Roosevelt once called him the most useful citizen in New York; the King of Denmark honored him with a knighthood; and on his death in 1914, Jane E. Robbins, head of the Neighborhood House which bore his name, said that Jacob Riis was

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