Thursday, 30 September 2010

HCJ Lecture notes - William Randolph Hearst

Historical context

In the 1840s, America considerably changed thanks to three main factors:
. The Gold Rush in California (1840-1850): Thousands of people travelled to California in hopes of finding gold. One in ten people died during the journey.
. Europe was ravaged by poverty and wars, many Europeans fled the Old World to find a better life in America.
. The Irish famine in the 1840s forced thousands of Irish people to emigrate to America.

William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst's father, George Hearst, was one on the thousands people who went to California during the Gold Rush period. He became very wealthy thanks to his hard work in the gold mines and then went into politics. He allegedly won the San Francisco Examiner in a poker game.

In the early days of american press, there were two types of newspapers: political and commercial. Political newspapers were mostly propaganda and did not publish news stories without them being distorted. The Associated Press was created in 1846 in order to pass on news more easily to various newspapers.

William Randolph Hearst took over the San Francisco Examiner in 1887 and completely transformed it. He was obsessed with the newspaper's front page; he decided to get rid of the text and put pictures instead, as he stated:

"They attract the eye and stimulate the imagination of the lower classes and materially aid comprehension"

Thanks to this process, Hearst managed to gain a broader readership: immigrants and ineducated people. He also improved the writing, making the headlines shorter and more straightforward. Hearst is considered by many the father of tabloid newspapers.

The Yellow Kid

The Yellow Kid was a cartoon published in Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper New York World. The character was a working-class immigrant child who spent his time with his immigrant friends. The cartoon was very popular amongst the working class people. William R. Hearst decided to poach Pulitzer's cartoonist, offering him a much higher salary. Pulitzer hired another cartoonist, and for one year, the stories of the Yellow Kid were published in both newspapers. This type of newspapers were then given the name of Yellow Papers. Yellow journalism is the ancestor of British red tops.


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