Yellow journalism and its social role

Yellow journalism refers to biased stories that newspapers present as objective truth, this is used to distort and exaggerate the news to create sensations and attract readers.

In the 1890s, yellow journalism started as a competition between two New York newspapers: New York World and New York Journal. The term “yellow journalism” came from a fight between the two journalists, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, over the cartoonist Richard Felton Outcault, who created a cartoon with the main character named “Yellow Kid” who wore a big yellow nightshirt. Hearst lured Outcault away from Pulitzer to create the comic strip in his paper, and Pulitzer then hired a second cartoonist to duplicate Outcault's work. As a way of competing against each other for more sales, these newspapers included fake stories, twisted facts, colorful comics, and eye-catching headlines to get people to buy more papers. Yellow journalism features large pictures bold headlines, and the news is o designed to always grab the reader's interest. With the development of the Internet, yellow journalism expanded to new areas, especially on social media. Social media provides a fast and easy vehicle to distribute information with viral stories, such as political news, celebrity gossip, or social injustice. Media is being redefined in today’s social age by the way information is being consumed: one tweet can be seen by a news source and can be spread around the world before they even have time to fact-check it. A very common example of yellow journalism within today’s technology includes clickbait articles on social media which can be described as a digitized sensationalized headline to catch the reader’s attention. With the free access to any information on the net, editors were supposed to monetize on information and find a way to generate revenue, and so click-baiting and ads saw the day. News organizations participate in yellow journalism for many reasons, one of them being the fact that this type of information helps the organization to keep up with the competition.

Many professionals who work in media showed their concern about yellow journalism from an ethical standpoint. Indeed, they believe that the public deserves to know the truth and that this kind of reporting makes it hard to get it. A recent study shows that almost 51% of the American population don’t believe the news they encounter on social media, and more than 49% don’t trust TV and radio when it comes to news distribution. This type of unethical journalism perverts justice and leads people to opinions, decisions that they wouldn't have or do if the journalist remained neutral.

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