Yellow Journalism is a form of writing that is best known for highlighting scandals and sensational news. The father of yellow journalism is William Randolph Hearst. Hearst would introduce sensational headlines or pictures to catch the public eye. Being in charge of the San Francisco Examiner, he would often use one major headline or picture and exploit to sell newspapers. Yellow Journalism is thought to of got its first headline with the sinking of the Maine.
Today, when we talk about yellow journalism, we mean all the sins involved in journalism. Most items are not really accurate. Sometimes, they might be on the cutting edge of downright untruthful. A verb used as an adjective can easily lead to a misconception of an event. For example, “Crazed woman chases Brad Pitt.” gives you the idea that a crazy woman is chasing after Brad Pitt. Where in reality, she is running after him to, to take a picture.
Many smaller papers and magazines that played by the rules were appalled that larger newspapers would stoop to such lows as to sell newspapers. In a large city, where two newspapers would compete, they would use some form of yellow journalism to try and out do each other.
Yellow journalism tries to speak to the interests of the people on the street. It’s a focus on the main subject that affects many readers. It’s a topic at that particular time and place. It could be something small that over shadows a major world wide event.
Yellow journalism is also entertaining. An intriguing picture will sell just as fast as a headline. Bigger pictures and bigger headlines are a form of sensationalism. The main objective is to attract the reader (buyer).
Newsboys, selling papers, would scream out the headline to sell a paper. Yellow journalism took selling a step farther, by placing the picture or headline larger on the front cover of the paper. A headline like a “Gunman’s Grudge leads to shooting” throws a focus on the shooter instead of the event itself.
Yellow journalism can also be practiced on live television news events. A good example would be that of OJ Simpson. The account of the Bronco chase, arrest, and even trial drew world wide attention. Why? Because people were interested in it. As horrible as a crime it was, people all over the world fallowed it in detail. Many other stories spun off of it.
Magazines and tabloids like the Star and The National Enquirer are great examples of how yellow journalism is used. “Inquiring minds want to know” is a phrase that thrives on yellow journalism.