To What Extent Was ‘Yellow Journalism Responsible for Instigating the Spanish-American War of 1898?”

Topics: United States, Spanish–American War, USS Maine Pages: 10 (3766 words) Published: August 4, 2010
The brief Spanish-American War that lasted from April 1898 through to August 1898 was fought over the issue of the liberation of Cuba, a Spanish colony that was suffering under the brutality of Spain’s authority. “The war essentially grew out of Cuba’s struggle for independence. Since the early 19th century, many Americans had watched with sympathy the series of revolutions that ended Spanish authority throughout the Americas” , yet it was in Cuba where Spain kept their autocracy alive. “The reason surrounding this was Spain’s quest of re-imagining its empire as the rightful possessor of the countries in the Americas; unlike British and French empires, liberal Spanish elite Cánovas del Castillo argued that dissemination of civilization was Spain’s unique contribution to the New World” and thus Cuba was deemed to be an integral part of the Spanish nation. United States of America’s intervention in this matter can be best judged as both moralistic and pertaining to diplomatic and political policies that the country abided by. Firstly, moralistic in the sense that the American nation cringed and empathized simultaneously for Cuba as it suffered under Spain’s blatant autocracy; so much so that in the Cuban revolution of 1985, financial support for the “Cuba Libre” rebellion came from some external organizations which were based in United States. Secondly, many of United State’s imports flowed in from Cuba and investments in to the sugar and tobacco plantations were thriving. “By 1895, investments reached 50 million US dollars; although Cuba remained Spanish territory politically, economically it started to depend on the United States.” Disrupting this prosperous period would not only have been detrimental to Cuba’s economy but to United State’s economy as well. Thirdly, the “policy of Munroe Doctrine which was introduced on December 2, 1823, said that further efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed by the United States of America as acts of aggression requiring US intervention.” The Doctrine affirmed that USA would not interfere in the internal concerns of European countries given that the Western hemisphere was not further colonized. Keeping this in mind and being fully aware of it, Spain chose to assert ownership of Cuba which America found unacceptable. Yellow Journalism is a well known technical term in the world of Journalism; referring to the deliberate downplaying of genuine news in favor of shocking, sensational and eye-catching ones or over dramatizing/exaggerating events with the motive to sell more papers and ignite a certain emotion in its readers. This term was perhaps first created when William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer of two giant New York Publications competed against each other for the most circulations. This rivalry peaked from about 1895 to 1898, also the period of the Cuban revolutions. Yellow Journalism and it’s power of persuasion was aimed at freeing Cuba during this period and it worked enough to instigate a armed military conflict between Unites States and Spain. From this, the research question – To what extent was ‘Yellow Journalism’ responsible for instigating the Spanish-American War of 1898? , therefore arises. In order to answer this question, the investigation will look at the different causes that sparked the Spanish-American war and analyze their nature to see which cause affected what aspect of Cuban-Spanish-American tensions, which ultimately resulted in war. Even though political, economical and social causes were overriding factors that ensured war, Yellow Journalism awakened a nation, America, to alleged atrocities in Cuba and forced them to take direct action. For this reason, the author of this investigation will argue that Yellow Journalism was responsible to a greater extent for initiating the Spanish-American War. The reason the author picked this particular topic was that it combines two of her...

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