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A.Word.A.Day--yellow journalism

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yellow journalism (YEL-o JUR-nuh-liz-em) noun

Journalism that employs exaggeration, scandals, and lurid stories to attract readers.

[From the Yellow Kid, a character in a wildly popular comic Hogan's Alley that appeared in the New York World, a newspaper owned by Joseph Pulitzer. The Yellow Kid was the object of a circulation war between the New York World and its competitor, the New York Journal that eventually resulted in both newspapers engaging in journalistic practices characterized by hyperbole, melodrama, and even manufactured events.]

It's ironic that Joseph Pulitzer, owner of a newspaper known for sensationalistic reporting during his lifetime, has provided the eponym behind the most respected journalism award in the US. But There are other examples of whitewashing with the passage of time and the institution of awards. Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite, is now better known for his Nobel Peace Prize. Who's to say one day we'll not have an annual Gates Prize for the company most admired for its fair business practices? -Anu

"My salary and my staff's mortgages and my loss-making newspaper are subsidised by the profits produced by the Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the People - newspapers which, when it comes to yellow journalism, make the Daily Mail seem like a church gazette. I enjoy the luxury of indulging in uncommercial journalism and shall therefore try to be a little less self-righteous today." Paul Dacre, Media: A Righteous Tribe, The Guardian (London), Jun 10, 1996.

This week's theme: words derived from fictional characters.


Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages. -Thomas Edison, inventor (1847-1931)

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