Ida Tarbell: A pioneer in document-driven investigative journalism

Ida M. Tarbell, Photo by James Edward Purdy, courtesy of the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division

If one of the callings of journalism is to speak truth to power, then there have been few  speakers as fearless and thorough as Ida Tarbell.

Tarbell was daughter of one of the many small oil producers crushed by John D. Rockefeller’s ruthless business practices. Her journalism career took off with well-received biographies of Napoleon and Abraham Lincoln, but at the turn of the 20th Century, she turned her pen to a potent and personal subject: Standard Oil.

What followed would become the gold standard for investigative journalism, but was virtually unprecedented at the time. Tarbell spend nearly two years researching court records, public documents and conducting in-depth interviews with those in power.

Published between 1902 and 1904, her 19-part expose clearly and irrefutably laid out how the company had, often unethically, crushed and coerced rivals on its way to building a multinational oil empire. Her reporting was credited with helping push for the dissolution of Standard Oil into dozens of smaller companies in 1911.

Tarbell’s dedication to accurate, fearless journalism is one of the core tenets of inewsource. And it’s something I aspire to bring to all of my investigations.

At inewsource, we seek to speak truth to power and hold individuals who can alter the course of San Diego’s history accountable. We do this the way Ida Tarbell did: We dig deep, for as long as it takes, building our reporting on documents and data. And share all of that so you, the reader, can always trust in our relentless commitment to the truth.

shadow-ornament

We'll let you know when big things happen.

About Leonardo Castañeda:

Leonardo Castañeda
Leonardo Castañeda is a reporter and economic analyst for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.
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