The Rise of Yellow Journalism in the Digital Age: What Writers Can Do About It


A Bit of History

It’s ironic that what began as a feud for readership and sales between two newspaper giants in the late 19th century has become commonplace practice for reporting so-called “news” on social media. Hard to believe it all began with Joseph Pulitzer (for whom the most prestigious award in Journalism is named, ironically), who purchased the New York World in 1883. Pulitzer used a sensational style of reporting for his stories and crusades against political corruption and social injustice to win the largest newspaper circulation in the U.S.

Along came William Randolph Hearst in 1895, who purchased a rival newspaper, the Journal. Hearst’s determination to be number one led him to outdoing all his competitors, including Pulitzer’s New York World,  in sensationalism, crusades, and Sunday features. Hearst stole a cartoonist from Pulitzer, which created a rival picture series that drew so much attention that the term yellow journalism was born.

Yellow journalism and the yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate, well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales.” (Wikipedia)

Yellow Journalism Lives on social media

Following the recent siege of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., prompted by both disinformation and misinformation peppered with a deluge of yellow journalism news bytes all over the Internet, I couldn’t help but notice how readily many had accepted what they read on social media sites. TMI, or ‘too much information’  – or more aptly – disinformation, prompted such an outburst as to endanger the lives of people and our political system at its core.

As writers, reporters, and journalists, there is an obligation to maintain the integrity of our words. In a previous post, I cautioned writers and speakers to use words carefully as they have the capacity for great power. In that post, I also wrote: “Write from the compassionate heart, support a peaceful co-existence and community goals, stand your ground without being divisive.” This phrase rings more true now as we face a pandemic, interference with our voting rights/system, and an incoming/new Administration, all susceptible to SM disinformation.

end yellow journalism!

The sheer volume of the 24/7 news cycle is overwhelming. At what point do we say ENOUGH? Are we even able to filter it all? (Of course not.) Or must we choose to step away from the constant download of so much disinformation? Is it possible to discern the true news from the false?

Yellow journalism must not, can not, should not, replace words written with integrity. Fight it but don’t ignore it, show it for what it really is: a pathetic attempt to manipulate the truth for the sake of ratings, attention, or personal and political agendas.

Pledge to maintain the integrity of your words. Promise to use your power wisely. Stop yellow journalism in its tracks.

#journalism #writers #yellowjournalism #politics #tellthetruth #twitter #instagram #democracy #fakenews #stopyellowjournalism #writewithintegrity

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