Three years after her books were published, the Supreme Court dissolved the trust of the Standard Oil Company. On its editorial page one newspaper wrote, "Miss Tarbell has done more to dethrone Rockefeller in public esteem than all the preachers in the land."
Ida Tarbell wasn't the only writer whom Sam McClure encouraged. He had a knack for finding good writers. "I had to invent a new method of magazine journalism," he said. His method was to pay writers well and let them do careful, lengthy research. Lincoln Steffens, by now also a McClure's writer, decided to investigate our cities. His articles became a book called The Shame of the Cities. Steffens went to Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Philadelphia and found corruption, lots of it. Most people assumed it was the poor who were the criminals in cities; Steffens showed that crime and graft were also found in the world of the middle class and rich. Because McClure's was so successful, other magazines began doing the same thing. It was a fine time for America's readers.