What is Yellow Journalism?

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What is Yellow Journalism?

Postby Jnyusa » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:51 am

It sometimes discourages me to read some of the links posted here. Yellow journalism is tiresome, and though we all recognize it when we read it from the sense of unease and fatigue that it provokes, it might be difficult to define.

It's not just slant that makes journalism yellow, imo. An article can be wholly persuasive in tone, not fact-free but clearly partisan, and yet not be yellow. I believe that the line gets crossed in choice of words, choosing the most inflammatory word over the more neutral one, and in the extremity of the conclusions, their distance from the premise.

Jay Lenno did a little segment on yellow journalism once. He read headlines from the New York Times and the New York Post that reported the same event. The one that sticks in my head went like this:

New York Times: Employee Error Causes Train Derailment
New York Post: Fiend Derails Train

:roll:

OK, so the Post is yellow and pretty much everyone can see that.

But we get derailed ourselves rather often here on Manwe when we feel forced to discuss the merits of the journalism instead of the topic of the article, and this happens when the journalism is yellow.

There is a continuum between persuasively-bent, yellow, and fact-free. I would like to hear from others what kinds of emotional reactions you have to yellow journalism, how you define it for yourself, how you know when you're reading it, how you evaluate any facts it may contain, or whether you just discount it entirely once the word "fiend" appears.

I confess that I tend to fall into the last category. Once I get a whiff of yellow, I stop reading. But I don't deny that such articles might contain perspectives that should not be ignored.
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Postby Faramond » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:56 pm

Well, I've seen articles linked here that seemed to me yellow journalism, but many other people took that as factual, and the assertion contained in that article has been repeated by many people, and it is not in doubt. And that made it hard to post.

I think the definition you give Jn is pretty close.
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Postby Swordsman_Of_The_Tower » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:19 pm

Something pretty much ever falls for in large enough doses. Usually before freeing some small country.
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Postby Canamarth » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:47 am

A good hint for printed newspapers are always the large letters, nude pictures - and just a tiny little bit of text in lurid prose. ;) I do get to read the headlines of our yellow press each morning in the train from people sitting opposite - or even a few rows further on (large letters, you know) - and that's all I need and want to know. :roll:

A punk band very aptly described our largest yellow newspaper (Bild-Zeitung) in a song: "Angst, hatred, tits and the weather forecast." (which sounds a lot more succint in German, by the way)
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Postby Jnyusa » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:59 am

Canamarth wrote:A punk band very aptly described our largest yellow newspaper (Bild-Zeitung) in a song: "Angst, hatred, tits and the weather forecast."


That's hilarious, Canamarth. What is it in German?
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Postby portia » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:01 pm

I have a dictionary that defines "yellow Journal;ism" as:

"Journalism that exploits, distorts or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers." I think that is a pretty good all-purpose definition, even though it seems to have topics other than politics in mind.

"create sensations" is a particularly apt phrase. Not "create thoughts" or "create understanding" or "create reasons."
In yellow journalism, words are chosen for their emotional loading, not for the likelihood that they will increase understanding of the issue.

The reaction it causes in me is an immediate need to contradict the article. Comments such as "That's not true, or "what a crock" normally come to mind. A little later, I am offended that someone thinks I stupid enough to take the writing at face value. In other words, that sort of writing ALWAYS backfires with me.
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Postby oldtoby » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:08 pm

Jnyusa wrote:
Canamarth wrote:A punk band very aptly described our largest yellow newspaper (Bild-Zeitung) in a song: "Angst, hatred, tits and the weather forecast."


That's hilarious, Canamarth. What is it in German?


I'll be very dissapointed if its not at least 30 letters long. :wink:
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Postby wilko185 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:07 pm

I was only previously vaguely-aware of the term "yellow journalism" (non UK), perhaps I'm missing its subtlety: but is there any actual "non-yellow" journalism? As I get older, I more and more distrust what I read. When I was growing up my parents took the Daily Mail. I read it, and absorbed and questioned it, and eventually forsook and ignored it. These days I read more Daily Mail articles than ever, but only for the purpose of being outraged by its .. outrageousness. Sites such as Angry Mob and mailwatch foster my tiny warm glow of despising the output of the most popular mainstream paper in the country. But the Mail's views shape the views of people I come into contact with every day, and I just can't counteract that wave of small-minded bigotry.

Even in media organisation which I might think are pretty impartial and responsible such as the BBC - whenever they report on the few issues I actually know something about, I suddenly realise they are shallow, ill-informed, and driven by politcal agendas rather than any objective newsworthiness.

So, is everything "yellow"? I would assert that most of what the UK public read over their morning breakfast-table qualifies. If you are reading articles about health, say (which preoccupy a huge amount of the UK press), then I think every paper in the country is prone to sensational and dangerous nonsense, and the NHS Behind the Headlines is probably the only place to get something like a sensible view of the issues.
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Postby JewelSong » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:49 pm

Cool song. By Die Ärzte. I listened to a bunch of their stuff...they are excellent.

Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOKGvIQgog8


German
Lasse redn


Hast du etwas getan, was sonst keiner tut?
Hast du hohe Schuhe oder gar einen Hut?
Oder hast du etwa ein zu kurzes Kleid getragen,
ohne vorher deine Nachbarn um Erlaubnis zu fragen?

Jetzt wirst du natürlich mit Verachtung gestraft,
bist eine Schande für die ganze Nachbarschaft.
Du weißt noch nicht einmal genau, wie sie heißen,
während sie sich über dich schon ihre Mäuler zerreißen.

Lass die Leute reden und hör ihnen nicht zu.
Die meisten Leute haben ja nichts Besseres zu tun.
Lass die Leute reden, bei Tag und auch bei Nacht.
Lass die Leute reden – das haben die immer schon gemacht.

Du hast doch sicherlich ne Bank überfallen?
Wie könntest du sonst deine Miete bezahlen?
Und du darfst nie mehr in die Vereinigten Staaten,
denn du bist die Geliebte von Osama bin Laden.

Rasierst du täglich deinen Damenbart,
oder hast du im Garten ein paar Leichen verscharrt?
Die Nachbarn haben da so was angedeutet,
also wunder dich nicht, wenn bald die Kripo bei dir läutet.

Lass die Leute reden und hör einfach nicht hin.
Die meisten Leute haben ja gar nichts Böses im Sinn.
Es ist ihr eintöniges Leben, was sie quält,
und der Tag wird interessanter, wenn man Märchen erzählt.

Und wahrscheinlich ist ihnen das nicht mal peinlich.
Es fehlt ihnen jede Einsicht.
Und wieder mal zeigt sich: sie sind kleinlich,
unvermeidlich fremdenfeindlich.

Hast du gehört und sag mal, wusstest du schon?
Nämlich du verdienst dein Geld mit Prostitution.
Du sollst ja meistens vor dem Busbahnhof stehen.
Der Kollege eines Schwagers hat dich neulich gesehen.

Lass die Leute reden und lächle einfach mild.
Die meisten Leute haben ihre Bildung aus der Bild,
und die besteht nun mal, wer wüsste das nicht,
aus Angst, Hass, Titten und dem Wetterbericht.

Lass die Leute reden, denn wie das immer ist:
solang die Leute reden, machen sie nichts Schlimmeres.
Und ein wenig Heuchelei kannst du dir durchaus leisten.
Bleib höflich und sag nichts – das ärgert sie am meisten


English
Let Them Talk


Did you do something that normally no one does?
Are you wearing high heels or even a hat?
Or did you wear too skimpy of a dress,
Without asking your neighbors for permission first?

Of course, now you'll be treated with contempt
You're a disgrace to the whole neighborhood
You don't even know their names
And they're already running their mouths about you

Let them talk, and don't listen to them
Most people just don't have anything better to do
Let them talk, day and night
Let them talk - they always have, anyway

You've certainly robbed a bank
How else could you afford your rent?
And you've been banned from the United States
Because you're Osama bin Laden's lover

Do you shave your women's-beard daily
Or do you have a few corpses buried in your garden?
The neighbors surmised as much
So don't be surprised when the detectives drop by

Let them talk and just don't listen
Most people don't mean anything by it
It's their monotonous life that bothers them
And the day becomes much more interesting when you tell stories

And they probably don't feel ashamed
They lack discretion
And repeatedly prove: [that] they are petty,
inescapable, xenophobic

Did you hear, and say, did you already know?
That is to say, you earn your money through prostitution
You work the corner by the bus station
The colleague of a brother-in-law saw you the other day

Let them talk, just laugh it off
Most people get their information from Bild*
Which consists of, who knew,
Fear, hate, tits, and the weather report

Let them talk, because this is how it is:
As long as they talk, that's the worst they do
And you can afford a little hypocrisy
Stay polite and say nothing - that annoys them the most.
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Postby Jnyusa » Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:53 pm

Wilko wrote:Even in media organisation which I might think are pretty impartial and responsible such as the BBC - whenever they report on the few issues I actually know something about, I suddenly realise they are shallow, ill-informed, and driven by politcal agendas rather than any objective newsworthiness.

So, is everything "yellow"? I would assert that most of what the UK public read over their morning breakfast-table qualifies.


That's the way I feel about the mainstream media in the US, Wilko.

One of the things that make Wikipedia interesting, imo, is their diligence in seeking neutrality. The ability of different biases to edit each other and to have access to independent arbiters really does seem to eliminate the sensationalist element found just about everywhere else.

If only there were a source for News like that, and not just non-original encyclopedic material.

JewelSong wrote:Cool song. By Die Ärzte. I listened to a bunch of their stuff...they are excellent.


Schlager-Rock, lol!! Thanks for that link, Jewel. That was fun.
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Postby TheEllipticalDisillusion » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:55 am

I think "create sensation" is the key to any definition of yellow journalism. The Post is a fantastic example of a news outlet whose entire goal seems to be to create sensations, jostle emotions and raise ire rather than report the news. (Ugh, I hate that paper.)

The biggest problem in today's journalism seems to be in figuring out which paper/t.v. outlet is presenting the facts and offering insight into them, or stirring the public and generating rage from what is presented. Andrew Breitbart's creative editing of Shirley Sherrod's speech is a good video example of yellow journalism. He presented a portion of her speech with the purpose to harm reputations.

Yellow journalism seems, to me, easy to see today (sometimes in hindsight unfortunately), but it works. It angers people to speak against it, which distracts everyone from the actual issues. This is one reason I got back and forth between paying attention to the news and ignoring it (though, it is helpful that every morning and evening on my drive to and from work I get my news fix from WNYC [NPR]).
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Postby Canamarth » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:45 am

JewelSong beat me to it. I like Die Ärzte for they fun songs which still manage to carry a great message (for those inclined leftwards, that is). :)

Sorry, oldtoby, the line is not overly long. But at least we managed to put weather and report together into one word. :P
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Postby JewelSong » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:51 am

Canamarth wrote:JewelSong beat me to it. I like Die Ärzte for they fun songs which still manage to carry a great message


Not all of them carry a message...some of them are just fun. :D

Check out this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db7VehzMdfM

Translation here:
http://lyricstranslate.com/en/die-explo ... riend.html
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Postby Canamarth » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:33 am

But don't you see the subtle critique of a male-dominated relationship ... ? :D

Yes, they definitely do 'just' fun as well (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQpK-IKgT3Q&feature=related).

Ok, now no more derailing the thread, I promise.
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