Josna Rege

328. Yellow Journalism

In blogs and blogging, Media, Politics, reading, Stories, United States, Words & phrases, Work, writing on April 30, 2015 at 9:42 pm

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Yellow_Kid_02829vThis term refers to a journalistic style that uses sensationalist stories and lurid images to whip up the fears and passions of the public. The phrase was coined in 1895 in connection with The Yellow Kid cartoon, which became a feature of William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal in a newspaper war with Joseph Pulitzer, who owned the New York World. Both competitors slashed prices, enlarged their headlines, and used attention-grabbing color supplements to attract their mostly working-class readership. Hearst hired away Richard Outcault, the cartoonist and creator of The Yellow Kid, from the World to the Journal, and soon afterwards hired Pulitzer’s entire Sunday staff. It is said that their rabble-rousing news stories eventually drove the U.S. into the Spanish-American War when their coverage of the explosion of the U.S. battleship Maine charged that it was not an accident, citing a suppressed cable (which was later shown to have been falsified (Defining Yellow Journalism).

William Randolph Hearst's Yellow Journalism at its finest (from americanhistoryusa.com)

William Randolph Hearst’s Yellow Journalism at its finest (from americanhistoryusa.com)

Today, the Society of Professional Journalists has a Code of Ethics that all responsible journalists are expected to uphold. However, you have only to look at a cover of the New York Post or ten minutes of a program on Fox News (see the documentary Outfoxed), to see that yellow journalism is still very much alive and kicking in the 21st century.

Thanks to my friend Sarah for suggesting this topic for the letter Y when I was completely stumped.

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  1. Yes, very much alive. Unfortunately.

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