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Yellow journalism and yellow press are American terms for
journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of report Image:Hurt Report cover page.png, 220px, Example of a front page of a report A report is a document that presents information in an organized format for a specific audience and purpose. ...

journalism
and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate, well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include
exaggeration Exaggeration is the representation of something as more extreme or dramatic than it really is. Exaggeration may occur intentionally or unintentionally. Exaggeration can be a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke stron ...
s of news events, scandal-mongering, or
sensationalism In journalism and mass media, sensationalism is a type of editorial tactic. Events and topics in news stories are selected and worded to excite the greatest number of readers and viewers. This style of news reporting encourages Media bias, biase ...
. By extension, the term ''yellow journalism'' is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion. In English, the term is chiefly used in the US. In the UK, a roughly equivalent term is ''
tabloid journalism Tabloid journalism is a popular style of largely sensationalism, sensationalist journalism (usually dramatized and sometimes unverifiable or even Fake news, blatantly false), which takes its name from the format: a small-sized newspaper (half bro ...
'', meaning journalism characteristic of
tabloid newspapers Tabloid journalism is a popular style of largely sensationalism, sensationalist journalism (usually dramatized and sometimes unverifiable or even Fake news, blatantly false), which takes its name from the format: a small-sized newspaper (half broa ...
, even if found elsewhere. Other languages, e.g. Russian ( Жёлтая пресса), sometimes have terms derived from the American term. A common source of such writing is called
checkbook journalism Chequebook journalism ( en-US, checkbook journalism) is the controversial practice of news reporters paying sources for their information. In the U.S. it is generally considered unethical, with most mainstream newspapers and news shows having a pol ...
, which is the controversial practice of news reporters paying sources for their information without verifying its truth or accuracy. In some countries it is considered unethical by mainstream media outlets. In contrast, tabloid newspapers and tabloid television shows, which rely more on sensationalism, regularly engage in the practice.Kurtz, Howard
"Fees for Sleaze"
, ''Washington Post'', Jan. 27, 1994


Definitions

W. Joseph Campbell describes yellow press newspapers as having daily multi-column front-page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps color), heavy reliance on unnamed sources, and unabashed self-promotion. The term was extensively used to describe certain major
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
newspapers around 1900 as they battled for circulation. One aspect of yellow journalism was a surge in sensationalized crime reporting to boost sales and excite public opinion.
Frank Luther MottFrank Luther Mott (April 4, 1886 – October 23, 1964) was an American historian and journalist A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worth form and dissemi ...
identifies yellow journalism based on five characteristics: # scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news # lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings # use of faked interviews, misleading headlines,
pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology include ...
, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts # emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with
comic strips A comic strip is a sequence of drawings, often cartoon A cartoon is a type of illustration, sometimes animated, typically in a non- realistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usuall ...
# dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.


Origins: Pulitzer vs. Hearst


Etymology and early usage

The term was coined in the mid-1890s to characterize the sensational journalism in the circulation war between
Joseph Pulitzer Joseph Pulitzer ( ; born József Pulitzer; ; April 10, 1847 – October 29, 1911) was a Hungarian-American Hungarian Americans (Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''amerikai magyarok'') are United States, Americans of Hungarian people, Hungarian ...

Joseph Pulitzer
's ''
New York World The ''New York World'' was a newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publications that appear in a ...
'' and
William Randolph Hearst William Randolph Hearst Sr. (; April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician known for developing the nation's largest newspaper chain and media company, . His flamboyant methods of influen ...

William Randolph Hearst
's ''
New York Journal New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz Boyz or The Boyz may refer to: Music Bands *The Boyz (German band), a German boy band of th ...
''. The battle peaked from 1895 to about 1898, and historical usage often refers specifically to this period. Both papers were accused by critics of sensationalizing the news in order to drive up circulation, although the newspapers did serious reporting as well. An English magazine in 1898 noted, "All American journalism is not 'yellow', though all strictly 'up-to-date' yellow journalism is American!" The term was coined by Erwin Wardman, the editor of the ''
New York Press ''New York Press'' was a free alternative weeklyAn alternative newspaper is a type of newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in b ...
''. Wardman was the first to publish the term but there is evidence that expressions such as "yellow journalism" and "school of yellow kid journalism" were already used by newsmen of that time. Wardman never defined the term exactly. Possibly it was a mutation from earlier slander where Wardman twisted "new journalism" into "nude journalism". Wardman had also used the expression "yellow kid journalism" referring to the then-popular comic strip which was published by both Pulitzer and Hearst during a circulation war. In 1898 the paper simply elaborated: "We called them Yellow because they are Yellow."


Hearst in San Francisco, Pulitzer in New York

Joseph Pulitzer purchased the ''New York World'' in 1883 after making the '' St. Louis Post-Dispatch'' the dominant daily in that city. Pulitzer strove to make the ''New York World'' an entertaining read, and filled his paper with pictures, games and contests that drew in new readers. Crime stories filled many of the pages, with headlines like "Was He a Suicide?" and "Screaming for Mercy." In addition, Pulitzer only charged readers two cents per issue but gave readers eight and sometimes 12 pages of information (the only other two-cent paper in the city never exceeded four pages). While there were many sensational stories in the ''New York World'', they were by no means the only pieces, or even the dominant ones. Pulitzer believed that newspapers were public institutions with a duty to improve society, and he put the ''World'' in the service of social reform. Just two years after Pulitzer took it over, the ''World'' became the highest-circulation newspaper in New York, aided in part by its strong ties to the
Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers to: *Democratic Party (United States) Democratic Party and similar terms may also refer to: Active parties Africa *Botswana Democratic Party *Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea *Gabonese Democratic Party *Democ ...
. Older publishers, envious of Pulitzer's success, began criticizing the ''World'', harping on its crime stories and stunts while ignoring its more serious reporting—trends which influenced the popular perception of yellow journalism. , editor of the ''
New York Sun ''The New York Sun'' was an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a white or gray background. ...
'', attacked ''The World'' and said Pulitzer was "deficient in judgment and in staying power." Pulitzer's approach made an impression on
William Randolph Hearst William Randolph Hearst Sr. (; April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician known for developing the nation's largest newspaper chain and media company, . His flamboyant methods of influen ...

William Randolph Hearst
, a mining heir who acquired the ''
San Francisco Examiner The ''San Francisco Examiner'' is a newspaper distributed in and around San Francisco, California, and published since 1863. The longtime "Monarch of the Dailies" and flagship of the Hearst Corporation chain, the ''Examiner'' converted to free di ...

San Francisco Examiner
'' from his father in 1887. Hearst read the ''World'' while studying at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
and resolved to make the ''
Examiner Examiner or The Examiner may refer to: Occupations * Academic examiner * Bank examiner, a kind of auditor * Patent examiner * Trademark examiner, an attorney employed by a government entity * Examiner (Roman Catholicism), a type of office in the ...
'' as bright as Pulitzer's paper. Hearst could be
hyperbolic Hyperbolic is an adjective describing something that resembles or pertains to a hyperbola (a curve), to hyperbole (an overstatement or exaggeration), or to hyperbolic geometry. The following phenomena are described as ''hyperbolic'' because they ...
in his crime coverage; one of his early pieces, regarding a "band of murderers," attacked the police for forcing ''Examiner'' reporters to do their work for them. But while indulging in these stunts, the ''Examiner'' also increased its space for international news, and sent reporters out to uncover municipal corruption and inefficiency. In one well remembered story, ''Examiner'' reporter Winifred Black was admitted into a San Francisco hospital and discovered that
indigent Poverty is the state of having little material possessions or income Income is the consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expressed in monetary terms.Smith's financial dictionary ...
women were treated with "gross cruelty." The entire hospital staff was fired the morning the piece appeared.


Competition in New York

With the success of the ''Examiner'' established by the early 1890s, Hearst began looking for a New York newspaper to purchase, and acquired the ''New York Journal'' in 1895, a penny paper which Pulitzer's brother Albert had sold to a Cincinnati publisher the year before. Metropolitan
newspapers A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments ...
started going after department store advertising in the 1890s, and discovered the larger the circulation base, the better. This drove Hearst; following Pulitzer's earlier strategy, he kept the ''Journal's'' price at one cent (compared to ''The World's'' two-cent price) while providing as much information as rival newspapers. The approach worked, and as the ''Journal's'' circulation jumped to 150,000, Pulitzer cut his price to a penny, hoping to drive his young competitor (who was subsidized by his family's fortune) into bankruptcy. In a counterattack, Hearst raided the staff of the ''World'' in 1896. While most sources say that Hearst simply offered more money, Pulitzer—who had grown increasingly abusive to his employees—had become an extremely difficult man to work for, and many ''World'' employees were willing to jump for the sake of getting away from him. Although the competition between the ''World'' and the ''Journal'' was fierce, the papers were temperamentally alike. Both were Democratic, both were sympathetic to labor and immigrants (a sharp contrast to publishers like the ''
New York Tribune The ''New-York Tribune'' was an American newspaper founded in 1841 by editor Horace Greeley Horace Greeley (February 3, 1811 – November 29, 1872) was an American newspaper editor and publisher who was the founder and newspaper editor, ...
's ''
Whitelaw Reid Whitelaw Reid (October 27, 1837 – December 15, 1912) was an American politician and newspaper editor, as well as the author of ''Ohio in the War'', a popular work of history. After assisting Horace Greeley Horace Greeley (February 3, 181 ...

Whitelaw Reid
, who blamed their poverty on moral defects), and both invested enormous resources in their Sunday publications, which functioned like weekly magazines, going beyond the normal scope of daily journalism. Their Sunday entertainment features included the first color
comic strip A comic strip is a sequence of drawings, often cartoons A cartoon is a type of illustration An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in print and digi ...
pages, and some theorize that the term yellow journalism originated there, while as noted above, the ''New York Press'' left the term it invented undefined. '' Hogan's Alley,'' a comic strip revolving around a bald child in a yellow nightshirt (nicknamed
The Yellow Kid The Yellow Kid is an American comic strip A comic strip is a sequence of drawings, often cartoons A cartoon is a type of illustration An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or proces ...
), became exceptionally popular when cartoonist Richard F. Outcault began drawing it in the ''World'' in early 1896. When Hearst predictably hired Outcault away, Pulitzer asked artist
George Luks George Benjamin Luks (August 13, 1867 – October 29, 1933) was an American artist, identified with the aggressively realistic Ashcan School of American painting. After travelling and studying in Europe, Luks worked as a newspaper illustrator an ...
to continue the strip with his characters, giving the city two Yellow Kids. The use of "yellow journalism" as a synonym for over-the-top sensationalism in the U.S. apparently started with more serious newspapers commenting on the excesses of "the Yellow Kid papers." In 1890, Samuel Warren and
Louis Brandeis Louis Dembitz Brandeis (; November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an American lawyer and associate justice Associate justice or associate judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the chief justice The chief jus ...
published "The Right to Privacy", considered the most influential of all law review articles, as a critical response to sensational forms of journalism, which they saw as an unprecedented threat to individual privacy. The article is widely considered to have led to the recognition of new common law privacy rights of action.


Spanish–American War

Pulitzer and Hearst are often adduced as a primary cause of the United States' entry into the
Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898, es, Guerra hispano-estadounidense or ; fil, Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, S ...
due to sensationalist stories or exaggerations of the terrible conditions in Cuba. However, the majority of Americans did not live in New York City, and the decision-makers who did live there probably relied more on staid newspapers like , '' The Sun'', or . wrote an anecdote in his memoir that artist
Frederic Remington Frederic Sackrider Remington (October 4, 1861 – December 26, 1909) was an American painter, illustrator, sculptor, and writer who specialized in depictions of the American Old West The American frontier, also known as the Old West or ...

Frederic Remington
telegrammed Hearst to tell him all was quiet in Cuba and "There will be no war." Creelman claimed Hearst responded "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." Hearst denied the veracity of the story, and no one has found any evidence of the telegrams existing. Historian Emily Erickson states: Hearst became a
war hawk A war hawk, or simply hawk, is a term used in politics for someone who favors war or continuing to escalate an existing conflict as opposed to other solutions. War hawks are the opposite of dove Columbidae () is a bird Family (biology), fam ...

war hawk
after a rebellion broke out in Cuba in 1895. Stories of Cuban virtue and Spanish brutality soon dominated his front page. While the accounts were of dubious accuracy, the newspaper readers of the 19th century did not expect, or necessarily want, his stories to be pure nonfiction. Historian Michael Robertson has said that "Newspaper reporters and readers of the 1890s were much less concerned with distinguishing among fact-based reporting, opinion and literature." Pulitzer, though lacking Hearst's resources, kept the story on his front page. The yellow press covered the revolution extensively and often inaccurately, but conditions on Cuba were horrific enough. The island was in a terrible economic depression, and Spanish general
Valeriano Weyler Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, 1st Duke of Rubí, 1st Marquess of Tenerife (17 September 1838 – 20 October 1930) was a Spanish general and colonial administrator who served as the Governor-General of the Philippines The Governor-General of ...

Valeriano Weyler
, sent to crush the rebellion, herded Cuban peasants into
concentration camps Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without charges or Indictment, intent to file charges. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects". Thus, while it ...
, leading hundreds of Cubans to their deaths. Having clamored for a fight for two years, Hearst took credit for the conflict when it came: A week after the United States declared war on Spain, he ran "How do you like the ''Journal's'' war?" on his front page. In fact, President
William McKinley William McKinley (January 29, 1843September 14, 1901) was the 25th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the of the and is the of the . The power of ...
never read the ''Journal'', nor newspapers like the ''Tribune'' and the ''
New York Evening Post The ''New York Post'' (''NY Post'') is a conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy ...
''. Moreover, journalism historians have noted that yellow journalism was largely confined to New York City, and that newspapers in the rest of the country did not follow their lead. The ''Journal'' and the ''World'' were pitched to Democrats in New York City and were not among the top ten sources of news in regional papers; their seldom made headlines outside New York City. Piero Gleijeses looked at 41 major newspapers and finds: :Eight of the papers in my sample advocated war or measures that would lead to war before the Maine blew up; twelve joined the pro-war ranks in the wake of the explosion; thirteen strongly opposed the war until hostilities began. The borders between the groups are fluid. For example, the ''Wall Street Journal'' and ''Dun’s Review'' opposed the war, but their opposition was muted. The ''New York Herald'', the ''New York Commercial Advertiser'' and the ''Chicago Times-Herald'' came out in favour of war in March, but with such extreme reluctance that it is misleading to include them in the pro-war ranks. War came because public opinion was sickened by the bloodshed, and because leaders like McKinley realized that Spain had lost control of Cuba. These factors weighed more on the president's mind than the melodramas in the ''New York Journal.'' Nick Kapur says that McKinley's actions were based more on his values of arbitrationism, pacifism, humanitarianism, and manly self-restraint, than on external pressures. When the invasion began, Hearst sailed directly to Cuba as a war correspondent, providing sober and accurate accounts of the fighting. Creelman later praised the work of the reporters for exposing the horrors of Spanish misrule, arguing, "no true history of the war ... can be written without an acknowledgment that whatever of justice and freedom and progress was accomplished by the Spanish–American War was due to the enterprise and tenacity of ''yellow journalists,'' many of whom lie in unremembered graves."


After the war

Hearst was a leading Democrat who promoted
William Jennings Bryan William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was an American orator and politician. Beginning in 1896, he emerged as a dominant force in the Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers to: *Democratic Party (United Stat ...

William Jennings Bryan
for president in 1896 and 1900. He later ran for mayor and governor and even sought the presidential nomination, but lost much of his personal prestige when outrage exploded in 1901 after columnist
Ambrose Bierce Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – circa 1914) was an American short story writer, journalist, poet, and Civil War veteran. His book ''The Devil's Dictionary ''The Devil's Dictionary'' is a satirical dictionary written by American Civil ...

Ambrose Bierce
and editor
Arthur Brisbane Arthur Brisbane (December 12, 1864 – December 25, 1936) was one of the best known American newspaper editors of the 20th century as well as a real estate investor. He was also a speech writer, orator, and public relations professional who coached ...

Arthur Brisbane
published separate columns months apart that suggested the
assassination of William McKinley William McKinley William McKinley (January 29, 1843September 14, 1901) was the 25th president of the United States, serving from 1897 until Assassination of William McKinley, his assassination in 1901. He was president during the Spanish ...
. When McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901, critics accused Hearst's Yellow Journalism of driving
Leon Czolgosz Leon Frank Czolgosz ( '; May 5, 1873 – October 29, 1901) was an American steelworker and anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the na ...
to the deed. It was later presumed that Hearst did not know of Bierce's column, and he claimed to have pulled Brisbane's after it ran in a first edition, but the incident would haunt him for the rest of his life, and all but destroyed his presidential ambitions. When later asked about Hearst's reaction to the incident, Bierce reportedly said, “I have never mentioned the matter to him, and he never mentioned it to me.” Pulitzer, haunted by his "yellow sins," returned the ''World'' to its crusading roots as the new century dawned. By the time of his death in 1911, the ''World'' was a widely respected publication, and would remain a leading progressive paper until its demise in 1931. Its name lived on in the
Scripps-Howard The E. W. Scripps Company is an American broadcasting Broadcasting is the distributionDistribution may refer to: Mathematics *Distribution (mathematics) Distributions, also known as Schwartz distributions or generalized functions ...
''
New York World-Telegram 240px, Cover of ''New York World-Telegram and The Sun'' on 18 April 1955 announcing the death of Albert Einstein The ''New York World-Telegram'', later known as the ''New York World-Telegram and The Sun'', was a New York City newspaper from 19 ...
'', and then later the ''New York World-Telegram and Sun'' in 1950, and finally was last used by the '' New York World-Journal-Tribune'' from September 1966 to May 1967. At that point, only one broadsheet newspaper was left in New York City.


See also

* *
Clickbait Clickbait is a text or a thumbnail link that is designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow that link and read, view, or listen to the linked piece of online content, with a defining characteristic of being deceptive, typicall ...
*
Fake news Fake news is false or misleading information presented as news News is information about current events. This may be provided through many different Media (communication), media: word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting, ...

Fake news
* '' The Yellow Journal''


Notes


Further reading

* * * * * * Kaplan, Richard L. "Yellow Journalism" in Wolfgang Donsbach, ed. ''The international encyclopedia of communication'' (2008
online
* * * * (Asserts that Indiana papers were "more moderate, more cautious, less imperialistic and less
jingoistic Jingoism is nationalism in the form of aggressive and proactive foreign policy, such as a country's advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national inter ...
than their eastern counterparts.") * Smythe, Ted Curtis (2003),''The Gilded Age Press, 1865–1900'
Online
pp. 173–202 * * (Sylvester finds no Yellow journalism influence on the newspapers in Kansas.) * * *


External links


Chart – Real and Fake News (2014)2016
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Pew Research Center
{{DEFAULTSORT:Yellow Journalism History of mass media in the United States Criticism of journalism Tabloid journalism
Political terminology Technical terminology of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The ...
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