The term “Yellow Journalism” refers to untoward and salacious behavior of the media. People living in the age of the internet and 24-hour cable TV news channels are numb to this outrageous behavior. It has become sadly ubiquitous.
When I point out factual examples of pure manipulation and “click baiting” in media “stories” to the average person, I get crickets. When I voice my disgust to them about it they more often than not are bewildered by my concern. This is the power of the media.
All media are constantly inundating people with repetitive “conditioning.” They soften up the populace with stories of outrageous incident on foreign shores or “feel good stories” diminishing bad things that people have done excusing their actions because they, fill in the blanks. Prior to breaking news of corruption or negative stories reaching the general public they seed those stories. They diminish the backlash when the people learn the truth. In fact, it is a form of manipulation and brainwashing. This type of journalism has started wars and destroyed good people employing the tactic of Yellow Journalism.
The phrase “Yellow Journalism” was in reference to an extremely popular central character, “the Yellow Kid” which was featured in New York City’s top newspaper; the Journal. The Yellow Kid was employed to embed complex political and social initiatives into the social conscious. It shaped the public opinion on important social issues of the time through the use of salacious reports and political cartoon satire.
The Yellow Kid employed similar methods that modern media use today. The “weapon” of choice is to employ anthropomorphization; the act of assigning human traits to animals. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities (Wikipedia)
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities (Wikipedia)
The owner of the New York City Journal was Joseph Pulitzer. He had established the Journal as the leading newspaper by sensationalizing news stories, exaggerating and creating crisis, championing campaigns against political corruption, and social injustices. When William Randolph Hearst, the owner of the massively successful San Francisco Examiner, moved to NYC and purchased rival newspaper New York World a battle ensued for supremacy. Hearst poached many top employees of the Journal including Richard F Outcault the creator of the Yellow Kid. By the end of 1895 the two newspapers were in full out war, and war, it would bring before it was over. Read my article entitled Casus belli click here.
Yellow Journalism was defined by its total lack of legitimate research, vetted facts, and the use of eye catching photos and cartoons. The newspaper war reached its crescendo when employing those tactics to “beat each other to the scoop” in the unrest in Cuba with the Spanish. The papers were advocating for the USA to get involved in the conflict directly with the Spanish. War, conflict, sells papers. The situation peaked when a highly suspicious explosion occurred on a USA Navy ship in the area. The hyped and highly inaccurate stories printed in the two papers convinced the US public that the Spanish were responsible and forced the US into the war. The public outcry forced the US Congress to pursue war. President McKinley, who was assassinated by what was likely a Bolshevik, was strongly against US involvement in the conflict. Yellow Journalism altered the course of American foreign policy. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 which established US policy to repel all attempts to colonize the Americas was brought to the forefront.
Not much has changed. Even as we have moved from print to digital news sources. The worst part is that the digital “news” outlets delete and change what they initially reported at the click of a key. It virtually erases any culpability to their willful or inadvertent manipulations and deceitful reporting.
The irony of Yellow Journalism is that it personifies everything that could ever be wrong with journalism. Yet, in an inexplicable, or possibly telling twist, each year journalists vie for the honor of receiving a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism. What? Yes, that’s right a prize with the name of one of the most irresponsible, manipulative journalist newspaper owners in the USA’s history. No, you cannot make this stuff up. They lied to sell newspapers and took us into war. Remember that every time that you hear how there is not such thing as fake news.
You should always check multiple sources, from opposing biases, in order to validate the reports. You are the first line of defense for the truth.