To What Extent Did Yellow Journalism Start The Spanish-American War?
Section A: Plan of Investigation (104 words)
This investigation will explore the question: To what extent did yellow journalism start the Spanish-American war. The scope of this investigation will include the aims of publishers William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, and the methods used by of their newspapers The Journal and The World to report the incidents related to the conflict that occurred between Cuba and Spain. The years 1895 – 1898 will be the primary focus of this investigation. The method will include the analysis of mostly secondary sources, such as historical journals, and the origin and purpose of the sources will be evaluated in order to determine their limitations and values. Section B: Summary of Evidence (555 words)
Publishers William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer:
William Hearst bought the New York Morning Journal in 1895 (Cohen). Hearst understood that people wanted “excitement and sensationalism in a form that was easy to understand and impossible to ignore” (Cohen). Hearst saw that a war with Cuba would “move him into a position of national prominence” while also selling hundreds of papers (Cohen). By offering them large salaries Hearst was able to buy off “writers, editors, and artists” in order to make his paper superior to The World which was owned by Pulitzer, a rival publisher (Cohen). Joseph Pulitzer was seen as both a “blind, tyrannical millionaire” and a “publishing genius” (Cohen). Pulitzer bought the New York World in1883 (Giessel).
Pulitzer and Hearst’s rivalry began when Hearst used the promise of a larger salary to steal artist R.F Outcault (who drew The Yellow Kid cartoons) from Pulitzer. (Cohen)
Yellow Journalism Practices:
Yellow journalism is a style of writing that uses “melodrama, romance, and hyperbole” along with gripping headlines and graphic pictures to capture the audiences’ attention (Cohen). Because newspapers could not reproduce photographs pictures were drawn instead which allowed Hearst to “authenticate” his stories and provide “proof” to back up what his articles were claiming about Spain’s treatment of Cuba (Perloff 31). Neither paper, The Journal or The World, reported on the acts of terrorism done by the Cuban soldiers instead they focused on the starvation of the Cuban people done by the Spanish (Perloff 30). “Americans were told Cuba’s rebels were like our Revolutionary war soldiers- Men yearning for self-government” (Perloff 30). Reporters “concocted stories of wild fantasy, based upon slanted press releases coming from the Cuban Junta, the revolutions propaganda agency in the U.S, or from their own fertile imaginations” (Giessel). Stories with headlines such as “Butchered 300 Cuban Women” were printed in The Journal every day (Perloff 31). The Sinking of The Maine:
Articles such as “War? Sure!” were printed in The Journal shortly after the explosion of The Maine (Giessel). Both papers began to publish rumors of plots to sink The Maine which was an American ship that blew up in 1898 for unknown reasons (Giessel). After The Journal published several articles claiming that the Spanish were responsible for the sinking of The Maine, “U.S public opinion demanded intervention.” (Cohen) After The Maine sank Hearst allegedly told his editor “There is no other big news. Please spread the story all over the page. This means war!” (Giessel) The explosion of The Maine was the peak of yellow journalism and Hearst knew this event was the perfect subject matter for his paper (Giessel). Opinions about the impact of Yellow Journalism and The Spanish-American War: “The Spanish-American War shows that the press had the power...
Giessel, Jess. "Yellow Press." Yellow Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. .
Cohen, Daniel. "The Yellow Kid." Lerner Publishing Group, 2000. Web. 20 Dec. 2014.
Perloff, James. "Trial Run For Interventionism." The New American 22 Aug. 2012: n. pag. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
Miller, Bonnie. From Liberation to Conquest. Diss. University of Massachusetts, 2011. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
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