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Yellow journalism

Yellow journalism is a type of journalism where sensationalism triumphs over factual reporting. This may take such forms as the use of colorful adjectives, exaggeration, a careless lack of fact-checking for the sake of a quick "breaking news" story, or even deliberate falsification of entire incidents.

The sensationalized human-interest stories of the yellow press increased circulation and readership heavily throughout the 19th century, especially in the United States. Early practictioners, 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.

Probably the most famous anecdotal example of yellow journalism is often repeated as having come from William Randolph Hearst, who in 1897 sent the illustrator Frederic Remington and writer Richard Harding Davis to Cuba to report on the Spanish-American War. Remington allegedly wired home, saying that all seemed peaceful and that he wished to return. Hearst is reputed to have replied, in a telegram, "You supply the pictures, and I'll supply the war."

Recent scholarship casts considerable doubt on this story. According to a study by W. Joseph Campbell study published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly (summer 2000), the sole source of the story was a book of reminiscences by a Hearst writer who was not present and could only have had the story second hand. Campbell also determined that the purported exchange was not consistent with other Hearst telegrams, nor with the situation at the time the exchange supposedly took place.

See "Not likely sent: The Remington-Hearst 'telegrams'".

See also: infotainment, junk food news, media bias, patriotic journalism, propaganda, tabloid