#335 Pulitzer vs Hearst: The Rise of Yellow Journalism

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Published Jul 31, 2020, 3:24 AM

In the 1890s, powerful New York publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst engaged in an all-out battle for readers of their respective newspapers, developing a flamboyant, sensational style of coverage today referred to as "yellow journalism".

This battle between the New York World and the New York Journal would determine the direction of the American media landscape and today we still feel its aftermath -- from melodramatic headlines to the birth of eyewitness reporting and so-called "fake news". 

The two men come from very different backgrounds. Pulitzer, a Hungarian immigrant who started his publishing empire in St. Louis, used the World to highlight injustices upon the working class and to promote worthy civic projects (like the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty).

Hearst, himself the wealthy publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, entered the New York publishing world, specifically aimed at competing with Pulitzer. In many ways, he "out-Pulitzered" Pulitzer, creating extraordinary daily publications which appealed to all types of New Yorkers. (Even children!)

In Part One of this two-part series, we introduce you to the two publishers and meet them on a battlefield of newsprint and full-page headlines -- located on just a couple short blocks south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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