Ah, the good old days… you know, when William Randolph Hearst hired the prominent authors of his day and probably uttered phrases like, “BULLY!” and “YOU WORK FOR ME NOW, BOY!” (even if that boy was Jack London or Mark Twain), and white folks were viewed as revolutionary or overly kind for simply thinking that black people and Latinos should be allowed to use bathrooms…
Yes, those were the days…
The days when Hearst and Pulitzer continually tried to one-up each other with catchy titles, phrases, and stories, and continually stretched the definition of truth in their quest for the holy buck. It was called Yellow Journalism, meaning “sensational journalism.” The idea was, if you catch enough eyes, you’ll divert them from your competitor, and you’ll win.
It’s why many people scoff at the idea that journalism has somehow developed into a noble quest that’s designed to better humanity. In all fairness, it’s a popularity contest. A rare few get to do things like uncover the Watergate Scandal, while the rest will be resigned to wearing hoodies to celebrate the life (and death) of Trayvon Martin.
Being unbiased and judicious can only be fun for so long, after all.
And, so, that takes us to right now, where the only thing TV, radio, and print folks love to talk about more is how the Internet is ruining their lives, and their jobs.
Yes, the Internet goes for headlines and viewers. (Oh, the humanity! That would never happen on the honourable world of television! Why does NBC air both the Nightly News and The Voice then, I wonder?)
Yellow Journalism has been replaced by this thing called S-E-O, or Search Engine Optimization, which basically means that if you put enough catchy keywords in your title, then Google will pump it up and you’ll get the buttload of click-throughs you’ve always been looking for.
It’s a dangerous game, but it’s why some folks are winning and others are losing.
It’s why the Huffington Post slanders Mitt Romney and Stephen Harper every chance they get, and why they run with stories that are more commonly associated with advocacy than they are with journalism. On the Huffington Post B.C.‘s Facebook page today, they linked to their story of the Enbridge doctored ad video with the line, “Enbridge forgot WHAT?”
It’s like their newly hired group of journalists are so happy to finally be outside the censorship tent, they’re now making up for it by ordering the Manifesto and joining the town’s singles dodgeball game on Wednesday.
It’s why Gawker’s front page right now (at 12:30 a.m. on Friday, August 17, 2012) has titles like “Getting With Your Lover’s Friends, Ignoring Patronizing Hotties, and Other Questionable Advice“.
Fact is fact: the Internet is just young, and it’s getting vicious. It’s getting yellow. And, while print folks, and radio voices, and TV’s white teeth can complain and moan about it… they’re all guilty of the same thing. Always have been.
Everyone is. TV news is just happy the other two are finally including it in their vague and high-brow club known as traditional media, while websites like Gawker and Perez Hilton are steadfastly shoving out any suggestion at all that they are journalists.
(*It’s like a battle to see who can blow the other one off faster, making them look more like the Democrats and Republicans than the Fifth Estate.)
Well, guess what, you are journalists, guys. You all are. Even you, Gawker.
Just because you’re not good journalists doesn’t mean you’re not journalists, because there are few of them, anyway.
Regardless of their vitriol, Gawker and Perez still inform the public. And, regardless of their Ivory Tower ridiculousness, TV, radio, and print still sensationalize.
Of course, any of those sites – especially the Huffington Post, which no doubt considers itself to be the Internet’s premier news site, which it probably is – will deny their allegiance with yellow journalism for a couple reasons: 1) Their existence is based on being anti-labels; and 2) They’ll say their in it to inform and expose.
Well, William Randolph Hearst as a newspaperman, for all his wealth. He was famous for uncovering negative stories and publishing them, even on businessman and companies who advertised with his papers like the San Francisco Examiner. Hearst, even as a member of the One Per Cent, often stood up for his editorial staff and for his readers. He served San Francisco, not just as a magnate, but as a diligent publisher.
The key with journalism – like cake and oral sex – is moderation.
But, if you’re going to pretend that you’re above the very game you’re playing – or that this whole cycle hasn’t been done before – well then, Honey, I don’t even want to know ‘ya.
(*Yes, this post is, in itself, an example of yellow journalism.)
White Cover Staff
White Cover Magazine is the "foremost" source for "male" and "female" things in the world today. Kind of. We have Sports. Movies. Arts. (What are Arts?) Television. Music. And, of course, a critical look at everything in the world of Journalism, Sports Journalism, and News at large.
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