Being unfamiliar with modern, yellow journalism is a controversial kind of journal which was popular with many publishers in the United States in 1890s. Seeing “yellow journalism”, most of us might think that it’s a sort of journal whose content is full of sexual issues. In addition to sex, yellow journalism refers to “exaggerations of news events, scandals or sensationalism as well” (Shirley Biagi, 2011). In the history, it was once considered as the cause of Spanish-American War due to sensational stories incited Americans’ emotions (Stephen L. Vaughn, 2008).
Michael Emery and Edwin Emery, the authors of The Press and America, called yellow journalism “the new journalism without souls”. Why this kind of unethical thing can exist in the internet? The attractiveness of yellow journalism, Internet companies’ utilitarianism and people’s preference are the main reasons for it. First of all, what’s the attractiveness of yellow journalism? “Firstly, apply scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news. Secondly, abuse pictures, or imaginary drawings. Thirdly, use faked interviews, misleading headlines, and false learning from so-called experts. These are three characteristics yellow journalism has (Mott, Frank Luther (1941). How does yellow journalism attract readers by its characteristics? Take yellow journalism from Hearst in 1989 for instance, the journalism used” Spaniards search women on American steamers” as a huge print headlines. Under the headline, there was a picture which showed “Male Spanish officials strip and search an American woman tourist in Cuba looking for messages from rebels”. It fitted three characteristics; as a result, it incited Americans successfully.
At that time most of Americans called on war with Spain, finally the government did send troops. Yellow journalism use exaggerations to touch readers’ hearts. The cornerstone of its attractiveness is plainly that it deals with issues readers touched. Secondly, why internet companies use yellow journalism even though it is unethical? Economists put forward the approach to the management of information, “treats human attention as a scarce commodity, and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems” (Davenport, T. H. &Beck, J. C (2001).
How to explain websites use yellow journalism through the theory? Every human just has 24 hours a day, what human can read in a day is about and about. So once a website catches readers’ eyes, it can occupy parts of time which cannot be shared with other websites. Longer time they share, more money they make because most of websites make benefits by investment of advertisement of external companies. Only the website keep a high click rate, can companies have strong willing to advertize on that website. That’s the reason they still use yellow journalism which have talents in attracting eye-balls.
Thirdly, it is about people’s preferences. Nowadays yellow journalism is not as terrifying as before. Today’s yellow journalism is more of scandals. Readers need traditional news, they also need entertainments. Where’s a need, there’s the supply. Zhangying, a researcher from Tianjin Normal University and Zhangshunan, a researcher from Shandong Youth University of Political Science have done research about the situation of yellow journalism in China. According to their result, we can find that Sohu. com, QQ. com and Xunlei. om contained social issues (7%), odd news (13%), sex (18%), morality (11%) and social problems (11%) in a day.
It seems horrible that over half of news in the Internet is yellow journalism in one day. Such huge demand shows that people have preferences in yellow journalism indeed. Of course, people have curiosity about anything. Therefore the appearance of tabloid and yellow journalism existing in the Internet is reasonable. The appearance of yellow journalism is reasonable, what unreasonable is the Internet companies over use it to achieve high click rate. However, yellow journalism cannot be eliminated because people need yellow journalism for entertaining themselves, they require traditional news to know what the world happened more than fun. Controlling is better than forbidding when things meet human nature.
Davenport, T. H. &Beck, J. C. (2001) The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business. Mott, Frank Luther. (1941) American Journalism Shirley Biagi. (2011) Media Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media P56 Stephen L. Vaughn. 2008. Encyclopedia of American journalism P608 Zhangying, Zhangshunan The harm of yellow journalism