William Randolph Hearst Essay

1090 words - 4 pages

William Randolph Hearst was born into wealth. His father, George, was a manwho struck it rich in the copper and silver mines and land speculation. When he was forty-two,George married Phoebe Apperson who was a school teacher and also twenty years younger thanher husband. George was absent much of the time and therefore William was raised mostly byhis mother. William Randolph Hearst would eventually operate the world's largest publishingempire. He had tremendous ambition and seemed to seek power.Hearst's story begins with his career as a journalist and that, in turn, begins atHarvard University. Academically, he did not do all that well and was eventually expelled in hisjunior year. What Hearst did do successfully at Harvard, however, was turn the Lampoon, ahumor magazine, into a profit-maker. After leaving school, Hearst went to New York andbecame a reporter for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World where he studied circulation buildingtechniques firsthand. In 1887 he went to San Francisco to take over his father's uninterestingnewspaper, the Examiner.As the editor and publisher of the Examiner Hearst did several things that wouldbe typical of his career in newspapers. First, he became a advocate for clean government andpopular rights. He waged campaigns that included ending the domination of the stategovernment by the Southern Pacific Company, obtaining lower water rates for San Francisco aswell as other civic improvements and reforms. He also obtained the best writing talent by payingtop salaries in order to lure reporters away from other papers. Thirdly, Hearst slanted the news.He himself once wrote that "The modern editor of the popular journal does not care for thefacts." He wants "novelty" and he "would prefer novelty that is not fact, to a fact that is not anovelty." Hearst used these techniques to turn the failing Examiner into one of the largestnewspapers on the Pacific Coast.Hearst's next acquisition was the Journal in New York where he competed withJoseph Pulitzer for circulation. The term yellow journalism was coined at this time because bothpublishers had competing cartoons strips which featured a boy with a yellow shirt. ErvinWardman, the editor of the New York Press, sneeringly referred to the contest between Hearstand Pulitzer as Yellow Journalism. This phrase stuck with Hearst and soon became to refer toany type of sensational journalism.The most famous example of yellow journalism came out of the Spanish -American war of 1898. Cuban patriots were rebelling against Spain. Hearst published reports ofatrocities by Spanish troops in Cuba, thus creating sympathy in the United States for the Cubansand a negative feeling towards Spain. Many people felt that this crusade was partly responsiblefor the Spanish-American war. The main point coming out of this story is not that Hearst wasresponsible for the war. The most important aspect of this story is that Hearst had a tremendousamount of people willing to buy his newspapers and believe his...

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