Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Yellow Journalism

William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer were the two main men in New York when it came to journalism in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The yellow press or yellow journalism is falsehood, lies or an alteration of the truth done in order to sell more papers and keep the readers that little bit more entertained. Pulitzer and Hearst were extremely reliant on this 'technique' and used it well to their benefits.

Pulitzer and Hearst had rival papers, which competed, in the journalism market; Pulitzer’s paper was called The World, and Hearst’s, The Journal. The papers did make a lot of people angry, but at the same time they were a huge source of entertainment for the mass.

The most important factor I believe that contributed to yellow journalism is firstly the industrial revolution, which meant the invention of the printing press, and then the ever-increasing drive for circulation because of the entertaining stories.

The term ‘yellow’, from what I understand derives from a comic strip of the ‘yellow kid’ that was published in The World, and was published using a new ink form that was non-smearing ink. The comic strip was seen as extremely important at the time and it is for this reason the term ‘yellow’ was formed.

The Spanish-American War

Hearst and Pulitzer were extremely influential in antagonising people before and during the Spanish-American war during the late 1800’s. Some people would even say they were solely to blame. This was because of their stories and photos that they published in their papers.

The war was declared shortly after the sinking of Battleship Maine. The ship was a US war ship, which was docked in Cuba. It came under attack, and was sunk with 44 sailors being killed and many more injured. Once Hearst and Pulitzer got wind of the event, they pretty much had a field day blaming the ‘cowardly Spanish’.

At the time the Cubans were under rule from the Spanish, and Hearst sent reporters to Cuba to report on the state of living there. The reporters found little in the way of proof of any wrongdoing or news worthy stories, but this didn’t matter to Hearst. All he wanted was photos and in his words he would ‘furnish the war’. So in other words, he used his position of power as a top journalist to make it look as if the Spanish were these horrible people, who deserved to be attacked, and that they needed to be stopped, when in actual fact the reporters found no proof of this. Headlines came out such as ‘Spanish Cannibalism’ and ‘Inhumane Torture’.

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