Established in 1921 as a companion to the social work journal The Survey, Survey Graphic targeted a mainstream audience interested in social and cultural issues.
In the 1930s, Survey Graphic provided a public forum for discussions about unemployment, labor unrest, race relations, healthcare, and technological change. According to the magazine's editor, Paul Kellogg, Survey Graphic relied on "social team play," bringing together writers from different fields and with different viewpoints to discuss issues that Americans were concerned about, but mainstream media publications seldom discussed. 
Historians have noted that Survey Graphic's predecessors, Charities and Charities and the Commons, were ahead of their time in their coverage of social issues.  Throughout the 1930s, Survey Graphic continued this tradition, breaking new ground with articles on topics such as police brutality in the Harlem riots (August 1936), the silicosis hazard in American industry (December 1936), and the consequences of new technologies for workers (May 1937).
President Franklin Roosevelt selected Kellogg to
serve as vice chairman of the President's Committee on Economic Security.
Kellogg also served on the Federal Action Committee of the American
Association of Social Workers. 
While Kellogg did praise government programs that had far-reaching results (he was particularly impressed by the Tennessee Valley Authority work), he was equally committed to convincing government officials to generate more comprehensive planning programs for Americans. This necessitated discussing the weaknesses as well as the strengths of Roosevelt's New Deal efforts.
and his brother Arthur, Survey Graphic's managing editor, invited
government officials to write feature articles explaining their policies
to readers. The editors and writers of Survey Graphic analyzed
the findings of government committee reports for the public. They also
selected local, state, and international programs they believed should
serve as models for federal policies. According to Paul Kellogg, Survey
Graphic gave conservatives and liberals a "threshing floor for discussion."