What we know as yellow journalism is actually older and more influential than we think. In all times newspapermen had to make up some tricks to induce people to purchase their papers. In the 1890s, wealthy newspaper owners William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer chose melodrama and romance to make their stories more compelling. It did not only help journalists to raise sales but also helped the US acquire territories in the war with Spain.
The term “yellow” appeared in the 1890s and soon became viral. The Pulitzer’s “World” published the comic caricature about life in New York slums picturing the yellow kid. Sales of the paper skyrocketed. In 1896, Hearst hired Pulitzer’s cartoonist to copy the success of his main competitor. In response, Pulitzer hired another cartoonist to create a new yellow kid. The competition was tough, and soon it became all about creating yellow kids. The sensationalist style of the late 19th-century press was thus called “yellow journalism”.
As yellow journalism emerged, it started covering international events, especially those in Cuba. The island had been a Spanish colony for a long time, and the US called upon Spain to withdraw from Cuba. With all the attention Hearst and Pulitzer devoted to the Cuban revolution, it soon became the main topic for everyone. The sales increased even more for both publishers who succeeded with bold headlines and creative coverage. The rise of yellow journalism is often claimed to have caused the outbreak of war. The two journalists supported Cuban revolutionists, pushing forwards the US expansion.