Yellow journalism

From Academic Kids

Yellow journalism is a term given to any widespread tendencies or practices within media organizations which are detrimental to, or substandard from the point of view of, journalistic integrity. "Yellow journalism" may for example refer to sensationalized news reporting that bears only a superficial resemblance to journalism. Journalistic professionalism, as now understood, is the supposed antidote. Instead of "yellow journalism," media bias is a commonly-used misnomer.

Contents

Meaning

The term, as it commonly applies, refers to news organizations for whom sensationalism, profiteering, and in some cases propaganda and jingoism, take dominance over factual reporting. Most cases tend to be related to journalistic bias, and the endemic practices of particular organizations to operate as mouthpieces, for rather limited and particular allegiances, rather than for the public trust.

There is a very long history. Recent accusations of yellow journalism center around media infotainment and corporate media, referring to organizations where business interests supersede the interests of news organizations to accurately report damaging facts about influential corporations and common practices within corporate industry. In certain cases, the links between political, business, and media worlds, are alleged to violate various laws ranging from fraud to antitrust.

In the modern context of near-instant television news coverage, a perceived careless lack of fact-checking for the sake of a breaking news story might be refered to as 'yellow journalism'. Aspects of yellow journalism can vary at the minimum from the sporadic use of unnecessarily colorful adjectives, up to a systematic tendency to report falsehoods as fact. (See also talking points memo.)

Currency

The term has largely fallen into disuse as the media world has grown both in scope and in complexity. Further, because most media outlets have cultural allegiances or business practices which to one degree or other force them to deviate from idealized concepts of reporting, accusations of "yellow journalism" tend to be few.

Print journalists have tended towards building a career reputation of consistent and thorough professionalism, to gain respect and prominence. News anchors, for example, may be chosen not for their skills at journalism, but rather for their presentation, appearance, and personality.

A current perceived rift is therefore more akin to a segmentation according to definitions of "news." The public still attaches to "news" the connotations of "journalism." Because of these developments, the common definition of "news" no longer belongs in the domain of journalists, but to wider television and internet media outlets over a vast spectrum of target issues and audiences. The proliferation of web media has in a certain sense re-validated journalistic ethics: reports that conform best tend to be treated as more authoritative. "Pseudo-news" organizations draw general audiences, who tend fall into market demographics that each favor particular blends of issues-based entertainment along with their "news."

Reputation and ethics do not necessarily coincide at all times. Well-established institutions such as the New York Times can be at fault. Many journalists find conflicts between their employment and their professionalism as journalists.

The Yellow press

The sensationalized human-interest stories of the yellow press increased circulation and readership heavily throughout the 19th century, especially in the United States. Early practitioners, such as Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, seem to have equated the sensational reporting of murders, gory accidents, and the like, with the need of the democratic common man to be entertained by subjects beyond dry politics. Two early yellow newspapers were Pulitzer's New York World and Hearst's New York Journal American.

The term derived from the color comic strip character The Yellow Kid, who appeared in both these papers. (See also symbolism of yellow)

Hearst

While most early newspapers tended toward expressing a viewpoint, the prototypical example of yellow journalism was the late 19th century Hearst Newspapers' consistent and deliberate falsification of whole incidents, claiming a humanitarian crisis among Cubans at the hands of Spanish troops. Hearst had personally written or directed the production of a number of sensational stories that exaggerated the claims of Spanish cruelty toward their Cuban subjects. The stories, combining both a sense of urgency and moral outrage, were wildly popular, and Hearst directed his papers to market and exploit this trend to the fullest.

Having been successful not only in convincing the public for the cause for war, Hearst had managed to sway the political vote as well. This reporting sparked a public outcry that led to the Spanish-American War, wherin American intervention proved to be disastrous. Americans would soon find themselves occupying both Cuba and the Philippines, and Hearst found himself courted by politicians seeking his powers of influence.

In fiction

In many movies, sitcoms and other works of fiction, reporters often use yellow journalism against the main character which typically works to set up the reporter character as an antagonist. Rita Skeeter from the Harry Potter series is a textbook example. Likewise, in the 1997 James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, an evil media magnate tries to start a war between Great Britain and China via sensationalized news stories; in the movie, the villain even alludes to Hearst's role in the Spanish-American War.


Contemporary criticism of organizations

  • The American television network FOX News, has been criticized by many media commentators and competitors for its selective coverage of events, for targeting an exclusively conservative audience, and for its omission of opposing facts and viewpoints. FOX News viewers, on the other hand, see FOX as inclusive of both points of view, liberal and conservative, and as a healthy alternative to other channels.
  • Conservative commentators have also criticised American news networks such as CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, PBS, and the Big Three: CBS, NBC, ABC, of systematic liberal bias, though the viewers of these many channels despute these claims.

See also

References


External links

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