Yellow Journalism: Spreading Sensation and Exaggerating Facts

Yellow Journalism is not the pure form of journalism, rather a pure form of business. Their main objective is profit, critical journalism is second to their interest. Truth must be the first priority for reporting any event. Media must abide by the responsibilities of the fourth pillar if it has the de-facto to act as the fourth pillar.

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Yellow Journalism Spreading Sensation and Exaggerating Facts
Yellow Journalism Spreading Sensation and Exaggerating Facts
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At the end of 19th-century mass media in terms of print culture saw the rise of Yellow Journalism. When William Rudolph Hearst in his newspaper started attracting people who are economically lower. His newspapers were a combination of low-selling price with an immense number of pictures, serialized stories, and a very little reporting accuracy. His newspapers practiced over dramatization of even the most uninteresting events. Hearst was found to be liable for initiating the Spanish-American war of 1898 through provocative reporting.

That was the time when overdramatizing of the news led to the war between two countries. The idea was to cater the working and lower-class society by using the sensational content. That’s why, according to Baran and Davis, yellow journalism was an easy target for elite criticism.

Yellow Journalism is defined as a form of journalism that features scandal-mongering, sensationalism, jingoism, or other unethical or unprofessional practices by news media organizations or individual journalists. Yellow Journalism is not the pure form of journalism, rather a pure form of business. In India, this kind of journalism is swamping from last two decades. For example, the coverage of Arushi Talwar’s murder, Love Jihad, and most recently the case of Indian cricketer Mohammed Shami. These all along with other cases were subjected to the media trial.

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Last year, a couple of two different religion(Hadiya Case) in Kerala went on marrying, the media stamped that case with Love Jihad. Majority of the media houses started media trial of that couple and exaggerated the facts and figures.

The JNU controversy went around exaggerating the facts, false and bias reporting. Ethical and moral grounds of reporting were crushed by many media houses. The Indian media, in this case, was framing and overdramatizing the events and played with the sentiments of the people. Media trial happened here too.

If we take a close look upon the patter of the coverage it boils down to the three major points:

Firstly, the media is shifting its intention from public issues that can lead to change in society to the only intention of gaining TRP.

Secondly, what Noam Chomsky says in its book “Manufacturing Consent” is the ownership pattern of the media houses. Mainstream media is generally owned by a corporation or the dominant class at the same time is funded by the ministers or the government. Their main objective is profit, critical journalism is second to their interest.

Thirdly, this yellow journalism creates a bandwagon effect. That means when one media is trying to constantly push the repetitive broadcasting of that event, another media jumps in and picks the same issue.

Yellow Journalism crushes the privacy of an individual. Media enters into the private realm of an individual to get access to his privacy. One of the most common tricks is to propagate the news in a manner that leads to sensationalization by selectively cherry picking them. And when this sensationalization enters into journalism, objectivity is the first thing that suffers.

Time and again Indian Media has crossed its limits, went on reporting false news. Unethical journalistic patterns were repeated to serve their best interest. The media is the fourth pillar of the democracy. It must abide by the responsibilities of the fourth pillar if it has the de-facto to act as the fourth pillar.

In order to curb this yellow journalism, there must be a single and strong regulatory body which can regulate and penalize media houses of all pattern. They should differentiate the public and private realm of an individual. Truth must be their first priority in reporting and media houses must understand the difference between true news and popular news.