Karl Marx “Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism of Karl Marx” (1848)

The New York Tribune

“Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism of Karl Marx” Karl Marx (1818-83) is certainly best known for his collaboration with Friedrich Engels that culminated in The Communist Manifesto (1848) and for Capital (1867), his incomplete study of capitalism as an ultimately unstable system. Yet Marx was also one of the most important foreign correspondents of the 19th century. From 1852-1861 and while in exile in London, Marx wrote for The New York Tribune and other periodicals, covering topics ranging from the Chinese Opium trade, to mental illness in Great Britain, to the British and American slave trades. Marx was unable to make a livable income as a journalist and remained financially dependent upon Engels during the entire period he was a foreign correspondent.

The New York Tribune

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Walker Evans “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (text by James Agee) [photographs]” (1941)

“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (text by James Agee) [photographs]” In the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s, photojournalist Walker Evans and reporter James Agee spent many months chronicling the lives of three impoverished families in rural Alabama. The book that they published–Let Us Now Praise Famous Men–brought to widespread public notice the horrific conditions in which many Americans were then living. Evans and Agee had originally been commissioned to report on rural poverty for Fortune, an innovative business magazine well known for its patronage of top-flight reporters. When their research outgrew the magazine’s format, they published it as a book. In the years since its publication, a debate has raged about whether Evans’s haunting photographs were informative or exploitative. Go here to view photographs

Pare Lorentz “The Plow That Broke the Plains [excerpt from the documentary film]” (1936)

“The Plow That Broke the Plains [excerpt from the documentary film]” This famous documentary film was funded by and made for the Department of Agriculture during the Great Depression. It was commercially shown in some public theaters, but many critics protested the use of government money to make and distribute “propaganda.” To see an excerpt, scroll down to the player at the bottom of the page. Go here to view film

John Grierson “Housing Problems” (1935)

“Housing Problems” The “documentary impulse” that was animating still photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange during the worldwide Depression of the 1930s also had a strong influence on filmmaking. Grierson, a Scot, believed passionately that documentary was “a new idea for public education” that should serve a social purpose. This 14-minute film, which advocates for improving housing conditions for the London poor, was said to one of the first to use on-camera interviews with working-class people. Go here to view film

Jacob Riis (1890)

The New York Tribune

Explore these photographs by photojournalist Jacob Riis of poor immigrant neighborhoods in late-nineteenth-century New York City. Riis worked for several years as a police reporter for the New York Tribune and gave frequent public lectures in which he used photographs like these to heighten public awareness of the travails of the city’s poor. Since it was still expensive and difficult to reproduce photographs on the printed page, the early editions of the celebrated book based on his reporting–How the Other Half Lives (1890)–were illustrated mainly with drawings that had been based on the photographs. Go here to view photographs

 

Jacob Riis (1890)

The New York Tribune

Explore these photographs by photojournalist Jacob Riis of poor immigrant neighborhoods in late-nineteenth-century New York City. Riis worked for several years as a police reporter for the New York Tribune and gave frequent public lectures in which he used photographs like these to heighten public awareness of the travails of the city’s poor.

 

Associated Screen News of Canada “Royal Banners Over Ottawa” (1939) + YouTube

Associated Screen News of Canada

“Royal Banners Over Ottawa” Canada, which had once been a colony of the British Empire, had recently been elevated to the status of as an independent self-governing nation, though, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, it retained a symbolic allegiance to the British monarch.