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Yellow Journalism


Yellow journalism is the behaviour of exaggerating stories with an intention of making more sales especially with newspapers. For instance, a writer could use a headline that will attract readers or write unverified stories that can be considered scandal-mongering. In other words, this type of journalism does not follow ethics of the profession.

Features of yellow journalism

In its definition, some people have identified five elements associated with yellow journalism. The first thing is usually to have headlines that are both scary and in huge font size making them hard to miss, even from a distance. This is irrespective of the fact that the news in the article is quite minor. It is also common to find print media in this category using pictures and illustrations in a lavish manner. This way, the graphic image draws the attention of readers into reading the content or buying the paper. Journalists in this category claim to have had interviews whereas they actually do not conduct the interviews. In order to get different categories of people to buy the newspaper, a firm can include a full colour supplement in its paper. Another trick that yellow journalism uses in attracting readers is showing sympathy with the disadvantage against a system. All these features show that the main agenda in yellow journalism is to increase sales rather than deliver news.

The origin of yellow journalism

Yellow journalism started out of competition between two main newspapers in the mid-1890s; New York World and New York Journal. These papers actually provided news in a professional manner. However, in order to capture a bigger market share, the papers used techniques such as using yellow ink to make their papers more eye-catching. Actually, yellow journalism and its success can be mainly credited to Joseph Pulitzer who headed New York World at the time. The paper was not doing very well due to its low popularity among readers and Joseph sought different ways of making the paper more successful. He ensured the paper had crime related stories with catchy headlines and sold the paper at a very low price. Despite the low price, he also gave readers more content than his competitors. Within two years of using these tactics, New York World grew to be the most circulated paper. In addition to these acts, Wardman who edited the New York Press is credited for being the first person to publish the term yellow journalism even though it had been used on several other occasions.

Yellow journalism may have its demerits but it is not entirely bad apart from the part of lying and false non-existent interviews.

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