June 20, 2007

Yellow Journalism

Yellow Journalism - Journalism that exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers.

Sounds familiar??
Blame it on my jaunt to Key West that's only 90 miles away from Cuba, but suddenly I am fascinated to dig more on Spanish-American War of 1898. And luckily for moi, etymology and history lessons go hand-in-hand :)

In 1890's Jospeh Pulitzer (of Pulitzer Prize fame) owned New York World and his major rival was New York Journal's owner William Randolph Hearst. The World had a popular comic strip running called "Hogan's Alley" which featured a yellow-dressed character named the "the yellow kid." William Randolph Hearst copied Pulitzer's sensationalist style and even hired "Hogan's Alley" artist R.F. Outcault away from the World. In response, Pulitzer commissioned another cartoonist to create a second yellow kid. Soon, the sensationalist press of the 1890s became a competition between the "yellow kids," and the journalistic style was coined "yellow journalism."

The question arises, what's it's connection with Cuba and Spanish-American War of 1898?

The story goes that, William Randolph Hearst understood that a war with Cuba would not only sell his papers, but also move him into a position of national prominence. Cuba was a colony of Spain and was fighting a guerrilla war with Spain to achieve independence. From Cuba, Hearst's star reporters wrote stories designed to tug at the heartstrings of Americans. The message was simple: Cuba was helpless and the U.S. must intervene. Sounds familiar again????

Trivia: The trivia here is what they call yellow journalism's "finest" moment.At 9:40pm on February 15, 1898, the American battleship Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, killing 268 men. Hearst, especially, seized on this tragedy to accuse Spain of sinking the ship, without any proof whatsoever.(Recent research suggests it may have been an accident.) War ensued, and, some say, this was the first press-driven war.

Sources : www.answers.com, http://www.pbs.org/crucible/frames/_journalism.html


suramya said...

quite a tragic story behind this word, reminds me of how the times of india is functioning currently in india,have to take everything is says with a pinch of salt, most of its news items are based on specultions rather than verified fact, its one step away from being a tabloid rag.

yogsma said...

amazing ..absolutely amazing post Moi. It is so evident in current media wars against each other..trying to better each other and TRPs only without caring for real news.

yogsma said...

@Moi - I guess you were on vacation..it seems you cant live without blogging.:-) good for us.

yogsma said...

You reminded me of BREAKING NEWS..how irritating is that one..from all news channel back in India.oh gossh!!!Specially on one weekend, every other news channel was showing the news of a small child drawn into a 50 feet deep hole for a whole weekend..no other news..give me a break!!.

Radha said...

Another disturbing trend in journalism these days is 'tabloid journalism'. Its seriously disconcerting how many people are interested in knowing about Paris Hilton wardrobe in jail or the invitees to the TomKat/Abhi-Ash weddings!

Abhishek Rudresh said...

Ahh.. yellow does lend colour to our lives, doesn't it? Though it looks like humanitarianism isn't exactly the yellow journo's forte. I guess there was a recent Bond movie on this theme... also Irving Wallace's novel called "The Almighty". The Fourth Estate has certainly arrived.

Moi said...

Suramya : TOI has several to draw inspiration from

Yogesh : Thank u and I'm back from the trip :)

Radha: True!!!

Abhishek : I am no fan of Bond movies, so I did not know about it But this is what google has to say
"in the 1997 James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, an evil media magnate tries to start a war between Great Britain and China via sensationalized news stories; in the movie, the villain even alludes to Hearst's role in the Spanish-American War, using the apocryphal quote "You provide the pictures and I'll provide the war."

666 said...

brilliant effort.

Moi said...

thank u, kind sir