The press has a lot of influence over the United States. In fact, the media exercises so much sway over the country that it has played a critical role in pushing the nation into military conflict. The Spanish-American War is an example of how journalism can often have widespread consequences.
Yellow Journalism and International Tensions
In the late 1800s, two rival newspaper companies engaged in a bitter battle to earn more readers. The New York Journal, which was run by William Randolph Hearst, began to challenge The New York World, which was run by Joseph Pulitzer.
Both newspapers focused on political corruption and issues related to injustice. But in the 1890s, they began focusing on international relations in a way that built up public approval of the upcoming Spanish-American War.
A Time for War
Spanish authorities captured Cubans and placed them into “reconcentration areas” without providing adequate food, shelter, or medical care. Many of these individuals died from hunger and disease.
By 1896, the World and the Journal were running pieces designed to create outrage at Spain. They published reports with headlines like “Spanish Treachery,” and “Invasion!” But it was not until the U.S.S. Maine, an American warship, was sunk that the U.S. was pushed over the edge.
The Power of Yellow Journalism
It would be wrong to say that yellow journalism was the only cause of the Spanish-American War. Plenty of other factors certainly contributed to the environment that led to the military conflict.
This is yet another reason why it is important for Americans to know how to consume the news. Sometimes, the press can deceive people into believing narratives that are not true.