Yellow journalism is, or rather was, a form of journalism that relied on exaggerated headlines and sensationalist stories to sell papers. It often featured little to no research in an effort to pander to the public’s need for juicy stories. Today it seems the majority of our ‘news’ is no different than the articles published revolving the explosion of the USS Maine off the coast of Cuba near the onset of the Spanish American war, only now instead of Spanish slandering headlines we have videos of our Hollywood demigods drugged up. Even stories of importance, such as those leading to the resignation of Congressman Lee, are pursued for the shock value behind the story rather than a desire to alert the public and positively impact the community. Twitter informs us of celebrity deaths before those celebrities are even dead. Bath salts, a scary new drug whose effects mimic those of all the worst kinds of drugs, was the cause of a man cannibalizing another man’s face before an autopsy report was even completed. Joseph Koni and his army of child soldiers were bad, but so was the army that Koni 2012 supported through donations.
And it’s not so bad. We treat everything like its burger king and expect to have it our way. Obviously journalism would not be in the slump it’s in if people weren’t happy with it especially considering the alternative (shoving straight facts down people’s throats). I think the popularity of the Daily Show sums up this idea nicely. Jon Stewart’s show does a fantastic job of informing while entertaining. Other journalistic endeavors attempt to do this with varied results. Who cares if we get a little sensationalism mixed in with our facts so long as the facts are still there? The real problem occurs when the facts are ignored for the sensationalism. Facts should be treated like dinner and the sensational parts dessert; we can’t have the latter without the former.