AN ERA OF YELLOW JOURNALISM
AN ERA OF YELLOW JOURNALISM
Media plays a vital role in a democratic country like India, where public opinion has a major aspect. Media is the fourth pillar of the society, the other three being Legislative, Executive and the Judiciary system. Being the mirror and modular of public opinion, people replicate and follow as well as accumulate opinions and decisions through the media and the information displayed by it. People not only obtain real information about public matters from the news media but also pick up how much prominence to assign to a subject based on highlighting and priority is given to it in the news.
Internet including e-mails and blogs, television, radio, and newspapers play a significant role in the formation of outlooks and opinions of the public. Today’s picture of media is entirely different. The public can talk about the incidents that are occurring not only in the country but also outside the geographical borders because of the awareness created by the media. The media also plays a crucial role in educating people. It can aid public involvement through advocating issues and transferring knowledge, skills, and technologies to the people. Awareness about various rural development programmes, propagation of family planning, etc., could be spread easily by using the media.
WHAT IS YELLOW JOURNALISM?
Media and journalism sing and swim together. Yellow Journalism is the process of over glorification and romanticization of the news, to an extent that it loses its essence. This is primarily done to hook the audience to a particular media house and to fill the pockets of unthrifty and knave journalists.
HISTORY OF YELLOW JOURNALISM
Yellow journalism is a foster child of mainstream journalism. The term originated from the American Gilded Age of the 1890s in the popular feud of Pulitzer VS Hearst. Joseph Pulitzer of the ‘New York World’ and William Randolph Hearst of ‘New York Journal’ started sensationalising the news to increase sales. They were the rival newspapers and each used catchy slogans, hyped headlines, comics stripes, and images to counter the other. Exaggerating crime stories, presenting them as morality plays and putting adultery and nudity on the front page were a few of the other tactics applied. The credibility of news took a back seat. As said, “Media is there to impact not to impress people”, the unnecessary glorification and ramifications were brought to the limelight. In 1897, New York Press use the term ‘Yellow kid Journalism’ after the popular comic strip to talk about the newspapers of Pulitzer and Hearst which both published versions of it during a circulation war. Later, Erwin Wardman, publisher of the New York World coined the term ‘Yellow Journalism’. Lowering of newspaper prices than the rival newspapers was also done by Pulitzer, who only charged the readers 2 Cents but gave them 8 to12 pages of information.
In 1887, William Randolph Hearst added a feather to this cap by purchasing the San Francisco Examiner newspaper agency. A month after Hearst took over the paper, the Examiner ran this headline about a hotel fire,
“HUNGRY, FRANTIC FLAMES. They Leap Madly Upon the Splendid Pleasure Palace by the Bay of Monterey, Encircling Del Monte in Their Ravenous Embrace From Pinnacle to Foundation. Leaping Higher, Higher, Higher, With Desperate Desire. Running Madly Riotous Through Cornice, Archway and Facade. Rushing in Upon the Trembling Guests with Savage Fury.” 
“Was it a Suicide”. “Screaming for Mercy”, “Dance of the Death” etc., are few other examples of Yellow Journalism. Also, there is a tenacious media myth that says Yellow Journalism fomented war with their over sensationalism of the news. The Spanish-American war was the outcome of Yellow Journalism. The most famous example of the exaggeration is the story, which probably is not actually true, that artist Frederic Remington sent Hearst a telegram to tell him, “ Not much was going on in Cuba and "There will be no war." Hearst responded "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." 
Yellow Journalism served no good but satiated the hungry, ravenous appetites of the gossip mongers and immature news consumers. With time, people started realising as to what were they being fed and the pace of yellow journalism almost stagnated around the late 20th century.
But today, in the world of manipulated media, it can be said with the firm conviction that yellow journalism is in a way the forerunner of the fake views and politically aligned newspaper columns. Many political parties and corporate houses with deep pockets created media houses of their own or acquired the existing ones to sanitize their actions. As corruption thrives, even the journalists are paid to air particular fake news in praise of political parties or politicians, clearly tilling the soil for cementing the rotten burrows of the filthy politicians by whitewashing their black actions. They curtailed to a great extent the editor's sovereignty for their commercial interest. With increasing competition from rival groups, pressure for profit-making, increasing corporate-political nexus made the ecosystem worse of quality journalism with many hazardous consequences.
YELLOW JOURNALISM IN INDIA
According to Gandhiji, “a free press should neither be an ally nor an adversary…. but a conservative critic”. With the emergence of breaking news and a compelling reporting culture, with spicy coverage in vogue, investigative journalism has gone behind the scenes, post the arrival of disseminating trivial stories that are half-published, with little research and a large number of published stories.
The news of the student death at National Law University, Jodhpur is called ‘selfie death’ where it was a mere accident and an unfortunate event. Another time, the news of the missing of some cows at the night and locals thinking of Aliens doing it was portrayed as ‘Kya Aliens Bhi Gaay Ka Dudh Peete Hain?’ (Do Aliens drink cow milk?)
This is pseudo reporting which is far from reality. Few other examples include the live coverage of the Taj Mumbai terror attack at the cost of national security issues, extensive coverage of Aarushi murder issue at the cost of a breach of privacy laws, extensive coverage of Nirbhaya rape issue at the cost of conducting a media trial and prejudice to the accused, and the list is endless. 
To phrase crispy plots, media has time and again crossed the Lakshman Rekha (solemn boundary) of privacy. In Rajgopal vs. State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court has observed that a citizen has a fundamental right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, childbearing and education. None can publish anything concerning the above matters without his consent. This law, as can be known to everyone out there, is not followed by the media.
As the media sector is seeing cut-throat competition, the news channels, and newspapers nowadays resort to anything and everything they could possibly do to fetch high TRPs. New channels have steered their wheels to entertainment because the just causes of real and serious issues are not capable of catching the interest of the viewers, thus reducing their profit. Entertainment has encroached much space in the news channel because of the hype, sensational and voyeuristic opportunities it has to offer. Competition is also one of the major reasons that compelled the news channels and newspapers to take shape of Infotainment channels that is telecasting informative as well as entertaining content. The news channel had no option other than to spice and garnish issues with drama to vie away other channels from their share of TRP and profit. Infotainment will reveal a strong presence on the news channel till Indian viewership matures, in order to pull the maximum revenue from the viewers. Paid news had also become a youth source of income for news channels in form of promotion of institutions, product services etc. This is much like an advertisement. News channels have moved from serious news reporting and analysis to tabloid television, a sensational, impactful, and dramatic format which relies more on breaking news of every kind rather than serious news. Primetime has become a platform for political debates where representatives of major political parties speak, less on the merit of issues and more about party viewpoints thus making presence redundant as far as the issue is concerned. These are the defeat and drawbacks of journalism. Journalists cannot turn deaf for their social and moral responsibilities towards society.
This is irresponsible journalism and should be discarded. The work demands portraying the revealed truth of society so it must not compromise with anything to reveal the truth.
*The views in this article is author's personal.
Nasaw, D., 2000. The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, Houghton Mifflin. [online] Yellow Journalism, Wikipedia. Available at: [Accessed 6 July 2021].
 Sisodia, S., 2018. How common is yellow journalism in India? [online] Quora. Available at: [Accessed 6 July 2021].
 1995 AIR 264, 1994 SCC (6) 632
 News Channels have Turned into Entertainment Channels, https://www.gr8ambitionz.com/ (2018), http://ggr8ambitionz.com/2017/02/essay-news-channels-have-turned-into.html (last visited Jul 6, 2021).