Today’s “Fake News” Is Yesterday’s “Yellow Journalism”

Fake news cartoon

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On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded and sank off the coast of Cuba, killing 260 U.S. sailors. This was bad news for the United States—and good news for William Randolph Hearst.

Hearst, the owner of the widely-circulated New York Journal, was the most successful media mogul of the early 20th century. With his trademark brand of sensationalized reporting, he used the sinking of the Maine to rally the American public against Spain—even though the true cause of the Maine’s sinking was unknown.

Today, Hearst’s tactics continue to influence journalism, from television news to internet reporting, with amplified effects. Help your students see modern news media more objectively by placing fake news in context with this insightful article on its origins, “Yellow Journalism and the Spanish-American War”:

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