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Yellow Journalism

Yellow Journalism

Author: Dan Boyle

At the end of this tutorial, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the Monroe Doctrine and its impact on the relationship between the United States and Cuba
  • Describe why many Cubans wanted to be independent
  • Discuss the events surrounding the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine
  • Discuss the impact of "yellow journalism" on the decision of the United States to go to war with Spain

Since the early days of the 1800s, Cuba and Puerto Rico had been seen as "natural appendages of the North American continent" and, therefore, a perfect place for the United States to expand into.  The Monroe Doctrine made this a little bit easier in 1824, when European colonization of the Western Hemisphere was seen as a threat to the United States.

After several failed attempts to eliminate the Spanish as colonial rulers, Cuba was finally able to gain some traction in their efforts at independence because of the work of Jose Marti.  He led a series of guerrilla warfare style raids against Spanish positions.  Afraid for the welfare of United States citizens in Cuba, President William McKinley sent the U.S.S. Maine to Havana Harbor, where it exploded under mysterious circumstances on February 15, 1898, killing 266 of the 350 men on board.

Newspaper editors William Randolph Hurst and Joseph Pulitzer used "yellow journalism" in their efforts to convince President McKinley and Congress to declare war against Spain as a way to sell newspapers.  Despite many diplomatic efforts, McKinley ultimately had no choice and asked Congress for that declaration and off to war the United States went.

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What is the Difference?

As we start our tutorial today, please take a look at these two headlines and be able to discuss answer the two questions below:

1. How do the headlines below differ?
2. Consider the wording and how a reader might respond to each article.






Yellow Journalism (Screencast-O-Matic Version)

A look at how yellow journalism got the United States involved in a war with Spain over the island of Cuba

Yellow Journalism (YouTube Version)

A look at how yellow journalism got the United States involved in a war with Spain over the island of Cuba