Yellow Journalism by William Randolph Hearst

By Phin Upham

William Randolph Hearst is a fundamental part of the newspaper industry. Hearst used his family’s wealth to purchase “The San Francisco Examiner,” which began a long career as part of the media. Hearst made a sizable impact on the world of newspaper publishing, with some of the effects still felt today.

Hearst was a bit of a party boy. Though he was well-educated, he attended Harvard, he didn’t graduate from the prestigious school. Instead, Hearst would host beer parties organized in the Harvard Square and mouth off to his professors. He was expelled before 1887, and immediately pivoted to news.

He spent considerable funds employing writers, and changed the tag line to “Monarch of the Dailies.” Perhaps a symbol of what Hearst hoped the paper would become. His journalism is what we might consider “yellow” journalism, which is to say that the headlines and copy were written to be sensational. There are more than a few news outlets who still practice this type of journalism. Today we refer to these kinds of blogs as “click bait,” but the idea was the same. Increase readership through skilled usage of current news trends and great headlines.

After buying the New York Morning Journal, Hearst began seeing considerable competition from the New York World. The rival journal used crime stories, cartoons and even more amazing headlines to grab readers. Hearst played cut throat and out wrote the paper. By 1897, he had beaten them in readers and revenue.

Though Hearst tried his hand at politics, it never worked out. He stuck to media, which is already a force to be reckoned with in the political world. One prime example was Hearst’s noticeable lack of support for the 1896 Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryant.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.

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