Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the Myths, Defining the Legacies

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 209 pages

The yellow press period in American journalism history has produced many powerful and enduring myths-almost none of them true. This study explores these legends, presenting extensive evidence that:

-The yellow press did not foment-could not have fomented-the Spanish-American War in 1898, contrary of the arguments of many media historians.

-The famous exchange of telegrams between the artist Frederic Remington and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst-in which Hearst is said to have vowed to furnish the war with Spain-almost certainly never took place.

-The readership of the yellow press was not confined to immigrants and people having an uncertain command of English, as many media historians maintain. rather yellow journals were most likely read across the social strata of urban America.

-The term yellow journalism emerged and took hold during a period of raging competition and intolerance among newspaper editors in New York City-and did not directly result from the rivalry between Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, as most media historians claim.

The study also presents the results of a detailed content analysis of seven leading U. S. newspapers at 10 year intervals, from 1899 to 1999. The content analysis-which included the Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Raleigh News and Observer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, San Francisco Examiner and Washington Post-reveal that some elements characteristic of yellow journalism have been generally adopted by leading U. S. newspapers. This critical assessment encourages a more precise understanding of the history of yellow journalism, appealing to scholars of American journalism, journalism history, and practicing journalists.


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First Use The Emergence and Diffusion of Yellow Journalism
The Yellow Press and the Myths of Its Readership
Not Likely Sent The RemingtonHearst Telegrams
Not to Blame The Yellow Press and the SpanishAmerican War
Defining the Legacies
How Yellow Journalism Lives On An Analysis of Newspaper Content
Echoes in Contemporary Journalism
Yellow Journalism Content Analysis Coding Sheet
Yellow Journalism Content Analysis Coding Instructions
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2001)

W. JOSEPH CAMPBELL an award-winning reporter during his 20-year career in journalism, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at American University. He is the author of The Emergent Independent Press in Benin and Cote d'Ivoire: From Voice of the State to Advocate of Democracy (Praeger, 1998).

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