Even though we should know better by now, reporters are seen exaggerating the point. The more formal term for stretching the facts is called “Yellow Journalism.” It creates sensationalism and popularizes the writers. The innocent readers exposed to this are forced to digest the false or biased information they’re given because of the fact that they have no other form of absorption.
Yellow Journalism began in 1880 with the two newspapers, New York World and New York Journal, whose owners, Pulitzer and Hearst, used strong tones of sensationalism to gain popularity. They even factored into the Spanish-American War, blaming the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine on the Spanish fleets crowding Cuba.
The disgusting amount of news propaganda continues to swell into an ever-growing, steamy pile of hogwash. Looking back at the history of exaggerated hooey making its way into official newspapers, it was easy to find my favorite lie. Though some news articles simply exaggerate certain aspects of a story, my favorite happens to be entirely fake. “Life on the Moon” was the headline story that caught the attention of many Americans with what it claimed.
It was published on August 21st in 1835 by The New York Sun Newspaper. Five more articles were published, orbiting the same topic. Still, the popularity for the New York Sun grew. Dr. Andrew Grant, said to be a colleague of Sir John Herschel, wrote about Herschel’s trip to South Africa he took with his new, innovated telescope. Grant then created an elaborate and erroneous story about Herschel’s finds. He constructed the articles and used rich, scientific terms, making it so believable that the newspaper cowardly came clean at the end of their popularity run.
This type of exaggeration, as stated before, plagues our modern day, leaving potholes and craters on the surface of so many daily papers. With technology taking the reins of how people get their news, the risk of false rumors and lies manifests at an even greater acceleration. Tweets carrying false information can be sent by anyone. Unqualified reporters have unfair biased opinions which they spread using propaganda. For example, a considerable amount of celebrity death hoaxes convey how an individual feels about a person, rather than the actual facts. Famous influencers such as John Cena, Jackie Chan, Adam Sandler, and Eminem have been rumored dead in this decade. Currently, it’s safe to say that they are all alive and well. Some deaths rumors, to be honest, made my blood run cold. It wasn’t until I read multiple different, credited sources that I calmed down.
In so many different ways, Social Media affects our judgement and makes its own opinion for us; two-thirds of the American population uses Social Media to absorb questionable information and formulate their view of different situations. We also tend to follow the words of the people closest to us, forgetting to key in whether what they’re saying is credible or not. Even highly credited writers fudge up the credibility – Mike Wise is a proper model. On August 30, 2010, Wise tweets about Ben Roethlisberger’s penalty. The unique case of Mike Wise’s false information is he said it was done intentionally. With so much power, he was able to fool hundreds of his devoted followers. He got suspended for a month – something, in my opinion, Wise deserved. In his apology tweet, he used a passive-aggressive tone to explain his experiment; Wise wanted to see whether people would fact-check what he tweeted on or not. He made the rude conclusion that no, people don’t think of double checking the work of a highly-credited writer’s work. As a sports columnist at The Washington Post, it didn’t seem to phase him that people come to him for fact-checked news! Instead, he makes his loyal fans question him and his reliability by abusing his power.
Though yellow journalism may simply be an exaggerated form of information, its roots span over larger regions of published information. From influencing wars to creating aliens, the newspaper is a very delicate thing. Social Media now dominates the news industry; we as readers need to work harder to be factually correct. Because, when it comes down to arguing over who-did-what with a friend, all that matters is that your onslaught of verbal comebacks are held up with stronger, more credible sources than your opponent’s.