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Yellow Journalism: Then And Now

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Yellow Journalism:

Then and Now

Yellow JournalismÐ'... the unbelievable headlines, gossip you hear from the "paparazzi," although you think it is just harmless gossip, it is everything but that, as a matter of fact it has caused wars amongst America and other countries. The term "yellow journalism" was originally coined to describe the journalistic practices of Joseph Pulitzer. Today, it is synonymous with the inflammatory editorials of William Randolph Hearst. In a classic example of "yellow journalism" Hearst responded to illustrator Frederic Remington's request to return from an assignment in a quiet Havana, "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war (Spanish-American War of 1898)." William Randolph Hearst (1863- 1951) was born in San Francisco, California, as the only child of George Hearst, a self-made multi-millionaire miner and rancher. In 1887, at age 23 he became proprietor of the San Francisco Examiner. Inspired by the journalism of Joseph Pulitzer, Hearst turned the newspaper into a combination of reformist investigative reporting and uninhibited sensationalism. He soon developed a reputation for employing the best journalists available. This included Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, and Jack London. He sensationalized journalism by the introduction of banner headlines and lavish illustrations. At his peak, he owned twenty-eight newspapers and eighteen magazines. Hearst upset the left-wing in America by being a pro-Nazi in the 1930s and a devout anti-communist in the 1940s. William Randolph Hearst hated minorities, and he used his chain of newspapers to aggravate racial tensions at every opportunity. Hearst especially hated Mexicans. His papers portrayed Mexicans as lazy, degenerate, and violent, and as marijuana smokers and job stealers. (Nasaw)

Does the media present the news fairly, accurately, and completely? It is reasonable to expect that the media will gather the facts and report the news fairly, accurately, and responsibly. The public relies on the media for a great deal of its information (Davis). A free press is not always damage free. It would be foolish to believe that the press and media will be responsible and truthful at all times. Yellow journalism stirs up public frenzy, deliberately reports misinformation, and tries to convince the public to support its cause. An example of how the media can affect and influence the views of its readers and politics came during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Historians argue that yellow journalism, through sensationalism and misrepresentation, created an atmosphere that resulted in a war that could have been avoided (Streitmatter). This idea of the media stirring up a public frenzy can be related to today's international concern for the war on terrorism. For example, the FBI recently released pictures of possible terrorists who entered the United States with fake identification. Shortly after the pictures aired, it was discovered that one of the fugitives was not a terrorist and was not even in the United States. This error illustrates how the media can influence the public. The need to be first with the story has become more important than the need to report the facts accurately. Irresponsible reporting,



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