Greg Palast: Author, Investigator, and Director
Muckraking, a term coined before the First World War, was used to describe one who investigated and published truthful reports on topics including politics, government, environmental issues, etc. Their duty was to present to the people information that was not muddled with fallacies and corrupted statistics provided by the government. In doing so, they strayed from the norms of journalism at that time and became more of a watch dog for the people.
By the 1900s, this type of “watch dog” journalism was appearing quite frequently in a number of popular magazines, such as Collier’s Weekly, Munsey’s Magazine, and McClure’s Magazine. These magazines published writings from some of the earliest and most influential muckrakers of that time including, Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, and Ray Stannard Baker. These investigative journalists, along with numerous others, paved the way for many of today’s journalists. One such “muckraking” journalist I came across was a man by the name of Greg Palast.
Greg Palast, a New York Times bestselling author, as well as free-lance journalist for the British Broadcasting Company, and director of an award winning documentary, is a perfect example of a modern day muckraker.
Born in Los Angeles, Palast attended John H. Francis Polytechnic High School and later went on to San Fernando Valley State College, know today as CSU. After acquiring degrees ranging from Arts in Economics to Business Administration, Palast went on to receive his degree in finance at the University of Chicago in 1970. From there he went to work for the United Steelworkers of America. From that point on, he decided to focus in right-wing politics and learn about the interior workings of the government and the corruption that lay beneath the seemingly gilded US government.
His writings reflect this interest in government and politics and how their policies and inner-workings coincide with society and more often than not, mislead the people. He covers issues ranging from corporate malfeasance to labor unions and even consumer advocacy groups. Palast’s insights on these issues can be read, not only in his magazine articles in the Observer and Harper’s Magazine, but also in his books, Billionaires and Bandits, Vultures’ Picnic, and the New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. His controversial documentary, Bush Family Fortunes, is also a highly notable piece done by Palast and has been awarded the George Orwell Courage in Journalism Award.
Below are some links to Greg Palast’s homepage and an interesting interview I found on youtube and other websites. Beneath the websites are the number of awards Palast has won throughout his journalism career.
- Patron of the Philosophical Society, Trinity College (an award previously given to Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift)
- The Financial Times David Thomas Prize
- Nominated for Business Journalist of the Year 1998 (UK)
- Politics Story of the Year on Salon.com 2001
- The Upton Sinclair Freedom of Expression Award from The American Civil Liberties Union
- George Orwell Courage in Journalism Award: Freedom Cinema Fest at The Sundance Film Festival
- Guerilla News Network’s Reporter of the Year
- The Peace and Justice Award -Office of the Americas
- Path Breaking Investigative Journalism Award–Long Island Progressive Coalition
- National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism, Book Category, First Place.