Gilded Age New York Podcasts

Pulitzer vs. Hearst: The Rise of Yellow Journalism in Gilded Age New York

PODCAST (EPISODE 335) In the 1890s, powerful New York publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst engaged in an all-out battle for daily readers of their respective newspapers, developing a flamboyant, sensational style of coverage today referred to as ‘yellow journalism’.

This battle between the New York World and the New York Journal would determine the direction of the American media landscape and today we still feel its aftermath — from melodramatic headlines to the birth of eyewitness reporting and so-called ‘fake news’.

An illustration parodying Joseph Pulitzer from Puck Magazine, created by Frederick Burr Opper, January 1898, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The two men come from drastic different backgrounds. Pulitzer, an Hungarian immigrant who started his publishing empire in St. Louis, used the World to highlight injustices upon the working class and to promote worthy civic projects (like the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty).

Hearst, himself the wealthy publisher of a San Francisco newspapers, entered the New York publishing world, specifically aimed at competing with Pulitzer. In many ways, he out-Pulitzered Pulitzer, creating extraordinary daily publications which appeals to all types of New Yorkers. (Even children!)

An illustration parodying Hearst from Puck Magazine, “The Yellow Press,” by L.M. Glackens, 1910. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

In Part One, we introduce you to the two publishers and meet them on a battlefield of newsprint and full-page headlines — located on just a couple short blocks south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

To get this week’s episode, just find our show on Stitcher or your favorite podcast streaming service. Or listen to it here:

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A Joseph Pulitzer collectable cigarette card, issued by Allen & Ginter, 1887. Further details at Met Museum
William Randolph Hearst
The Yellow Kid in the New York Journal, 1897. Courtesy the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum/Ohio State University

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