Can’t sleep…brain on…

…so I’m cruising the hiways and byways of the Internet, checking out my favorite sites and dipping into my email when I come across one from the Society of Professional Journalists. Good after-hours reading. Hey – there’s a quiz at the end!

What is the significance of Robert Outcault in journalism? For extra credit, in what newspaper did his work originate?

Now that’ll keep me occupied for a while, so I Google “Robert Outcault.” Name was kinda familiar…he was the cartoonist known in the 19th century as “The Yellow Kid.” From this moniker sprang the term “yellow journalism.”

Got the background from ThinkQuest. And further into this article is the meat that I’m currently gnawing on.

Yellow journalism is journalism at its worst. Journalism done for the masses meant to attract an audience. Truth, justice, and ethics are not part of the mix. And here’s the paragraph that has me mulling:

…this period of sensationalist news delivery (where the so-called yellow press routinely outsold the more honest, truthful, unbiased newspapers) does stand out as a particularly dark era in journalistic history. The demand of the United States people for absolutely free press allowed such aforementioned newspapers, which often appealed to the shorter attention spans and interests of the lower class, to print whatever they so desired…

Shades of (insert name of whatever publication or broadcast or Internet entity you feel fits here)!

This could have been written today…people think news should be free/or nearly free. They don’t want to pay for the good stuff – the real stuff – the stuff that takes time, effort, money to dig out. So they settle for second-hand and opinions and “almost” factual reporting.

Problem is not everyone will take heed of the advice at the end of this article:

If one disregards the obvious marketing that is used to hook readers, newspapers may actually prove to be reliable sources of information.

Sigh…ditto all media.


2 thoughts on “Can’t sleep…brain on…

  1. And Joseph Pulitzer and William Hearst was the worst of them all when it came to yellow journalism. A certain cable news channel has nothing on those two.

    Pulitzer may have left the finest legacy to journalism , but he also left behind a terrible one too.

    • Hearst stole Outcaulk from Pulitzer, who promptly hired another cartoonist to continue the Yellow Kid (so names for the non-smearable yellow ink used for this early “color” cartoon).

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