#336 The War on Newspaper Row

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Published Aug 7, 2020, 2:20 AM

The newspapers of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst -- the New York World and the New York Journal -- were locked in a fierce competition for readers in the mid 1890s. New Yorkers loved it. The paper's sensational style was so shocking that it became known as "yellow journalism".

So what happens when those flamboyant publications are given an international conflict to write about?

On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine mysteriously exploded while stationed in Havana Harbor in Cuba. While President McKinley urged calm and patience, two New York newspapers jumped to a hasty conclusion -- Spain had destroyed the ship!

The Spanish-American War allowed Hearst (with Pulitzer playing catch up) fresh opportunities to sell newspapers using exaggerated reports, melodramatic illustration and even outlandish stunts. (Think Hearst on a yacht, barreling into conflicts where he didn't belong.)

But by 1899, with the war only a recent memory, the publishers faced a very different battle -- one with their own newsboys, united against the paper's unfair pricing practices. It's a face-off so dramatic, they wrote a musical about it!

PLUS: How have the legacies of Pulitzer and Hearst influenced our world to this day? And where can you find the remnants of their respective empires in New York City today?

This is Part Two of our two-part series on Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Listen to Episode 335 (Pulitzer vs. Hearst: The Rise of Yellow Journalism) before listening to this show.


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