“yellow journalism”

When someone accuses a newspaper of “yellow journalism” what they mean is that it presents the news in a biased manner. It distorts the facts and sensationalises the news in order to get the public to buy the paper. It attempts to increase its circulation, not by providing accurate news, but by appealing to the public’s curiosity. The term “yellow journalism” is no longer restricted to newspapers alone, it includes all other forms of media — television and radio.

*Some of the local newspapers are classic examples of yellow journalism.

The expression was popularised in the late 19th Century in the U.S. Two newspapers, “New York World”, owned by Joseph Pulitzer, and “New York Journal”, owned by William Randolph Hearst, were trying to become very popular among the public by printing sensational stories. Both newspapers specialised in muckraking. The “World” had a popular comic strip called “Hogan’s Alley” in which the character “Yellow Kid” appeared. Hearst played dirty and got “Hogan’s” creator, R. F. Outcault, to join his paper. The angry Pulitzer hired another artist and asked him to continue with the “Yellow Kid”. The competition between the two yellow kids led to an all out war between the two papers. There was a court battle over the copyright, and very often, street fights broke out between the delivery boys of the rival newspapers. The fight between Hearst and Pulitzer over the “Yellow Kid” began to symbolise everything that was wrong with American journalism.

The Hindu- ‘Know Your English’ Series, Jan 24, 2005


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