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The Sensation of Tabloids

In my first blog, I wrote out a brief timeline of tabloids. What exactly is “yellow journalism?” An excerpt from an article published in 1909 gives us a good idea of what it is (click to enlarge):

1895 marks the beginning of the great circulation wars between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Hearst “stole” a lot of writers from Pulitzer’s paper New York World, including the author of the famous “Yellow Kid” comics, Richard F. Outcault. The cartoon was first published in the New York World. When Hearst hired Outcault,

“Yellow Kid”

Pulitzer then hired another artist to produce the same strip in his newspaper. This comic strip happened to use a new special, non-smear yellow ink, and because of the significance of the comic strip, the term “yellow journalism” was coined by critics. As the newspaper owners fought for readership, the news became over-dramatized, ripe with scandal, and the stories were altered to sell to the popular opinion of the time. Hearst saw the Spanish-American War as a prime opportunity to boost his newspaper sales. Hearst became one the first to station reporters in Cuba, and through his newspaper stories, pushed the president to sign the bill officially entering America into the war.

Finally, I leave you with a piece from an 1890 issue of the New York Times:

Sensational Journalism


“Sensational Journalism and the Remedy.” Samuel W. Pennypacker. The North American Review. Vol. 190, No. 648. Nov., 1909. pp. 587-593. University of Northern Iowa. <;.


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