Skip to main content

Yellow Journalism

Yellow journalism refers to reporting that is sensationalistic and may not be entirely factual. The derogatory term was first used to describe the reporting in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, two rival newspapers that were competing for readers in the 1890s. The World featured a comic strip with a character that wore yellow and was named “the yellow kid.” Hearst lured the artist of the strip to work for the Journal, prompting Pulitzer to hire another cartoonist to launch a similar “yellow kid” comic. Hence, the ultra-competitive papers were the “yellow-kid papers.” Both papers were accused of dramatizing the news in order to increase circulation. They also were charged with prompting the start of the Spanish American War, when Hearst’s papers printed stories that blamed Spain for the sinking of the battleship Maine.