Friday, April 11, 2014

Mighter Than the Sword #2

Please post a response to the following question by midnight this coming Wednesday.

After reading the first article below, describe how Smythe's analysis of the causes of press sensationalism differs from Streitmatter's in MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD. Also, read the second article and be prepared to discuss whether the conditions described there are analogous to those described by Smythe and must inevitably contribute to the same consequences. (I may give a quiz if I'm not satisfied that people have done the reading.)


Unknown said...

“It is easy for man with an ample salary to say that a newspaper writer should state facts just as they are, with no exaggeration, but when the reporter knows that the plain ‘fire’ is worth a dollar and the “conflagration” will make him a possible ten, the fire is very apt to conflagrate if ingenuity can persuade the city editor to allow it to do so. It is the natural result of the space system where the worker is paid not for work but frequently for padding.”
I think that this quote from Forman pretty much sums up Smythe’s view on sensationalism. He believes that the better reporters were paid, the more they exaggerated. Therefore, the better the paper, the more inflated stories. He lists many examples about how he’s heard stories of reporters telling their own version of the same tale. He believes that when you add up the working conditions and the system of pay, you got press sensationalism.
Streitmatter goes into great detail about Thomas Nast and his images. He talks a lot about how he used the press to shed light on the crook that William Tweed really was. Essentially he is saying that the press was used in a very good way and showed the world who this man truly was and that, without him, maybe he would have never been exposed. He builds up the good in the press to show how almost cocky America had become, filled with confidence.
Streitmatter then goes on to discuss Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst during the Spanish-American War. He then states, “The sensationalism that Hearst and Pulitzer practiced, especially their coverage of the 1898 explosion of the battle U.S.S. Maine, created a high-pitched and bumptious jingoism that led to a national hunger for war.” These two men made up events. He believes that the Spanish-American War could have been prevented if not for their sensationalism. He believes that the newly-found confidence in America and wonderfully powerful business, now bringing entrepreneurs onto the scene, of journalism founded yellow journalism.
I believe Smythe and Streitmatter have essentially the same views on press sensationalism and how damaging it can be, but they have different views on how it first came into existence.

Howie Good said...

i'm going to suggest that smythe & streitmatter have quite different views of what drove (and still drives) sensationalism, which may have become journalism's default mode.

Julia Tyles said...

According to Smythe it seems that a big cause of sensationalism was reporters working conditions and salaries. If reporters ended up having a story they were paid per column and it varied between different newspaper companies. Since reporters pay were based on the length of their story this “caused many of them…to fully capitulate to the news values of the day; they worked not for social ideals, with a sense of public responsibility, but rather for column inches.” They wanted longer stories even if that meant making up some or all the information. In Mightier than the Sword, Streitmatter shows examples different than Smythe’s for causes of sensationalism. One of the biggest reasons was to increase circulation of the paper, so the companies like the World and the Journal would increase profits. Another reason was to influence the public’s opinions when it came to issues. An example of that is when it came to declare war against the Spanish government over the Maine disaster. Even though some of the statements about the Maine weren’t true, it convinced the public and got the president to declare war. So sensationalism was also used to influence people according to Streitmatter.

Unknown said...

Smythe's analysis of press sensationalism deals with the essential factor of making money. The reporters and journalists represented through the 1880's-1900's in Smythe's story all live by the space system in which they get paid by the column length. Working for inches meant exaggerating and padding stories for a larger paycheck at the end of the week. Many of the reporters and journalists also worked in secret on various other papers as advertisers to increase their pay sum. Smythe describes reporters and journalists who as individuals want to strive financially, where as Streitmatter reports about sensationalism to become the top selling paper with the biggest group of readers. In Mighter than the Sword, two of America's top yellow journalists, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, were in constant competition to become the worlds leading newspaper. Both of these yellow journalists relied on unethical news and hype to sell a story. Whether it was staging events or distorting information, Pulitzer and Hearst's use of sensationalism proved to be successful towards their goals. In just four short years, Pulitzer's The World, became the largest paper in the world with a circulation of 250,000. Pulitzer and Hearst wanted to "inform, entertain and shock" readers to the point where their miscommunication affected the neutrality of the United States, pushing the US into the Spanish-American War

Unknown said...

Ted Curtis Smythe and Rodger Streitmatter both explain in their works how journalism has reshaped politics, foreign policy, and general societal practices. In the case of sensationalism,Streitmatter dives right into detailing the importance of sensationalism in early colonial weekly newspapers. With writers like Adams for the Gazette, he explains how this early style of sensationalism built support for the American Revolution. Streitmatter goes on to explain how sensationalist journalism provoked many other major historical events, such as the Spanish-American war. Streitmatter claims that sensationalism was practiced to the degree it was because of the publications attempt to increase readership and circulation. He also contributes the sensationalist journalism to the newspaper publications attempts to persuade public opinions, which could be due to a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, the publications political allegiance, stakeholders involved in the publication, and the profit to be made off of hard-hitting dramatic stories. Although Streitmatter explains the transformation of journalism from its revolutionary status in the 18th century to its modern era, Smythe’s detailing of late 19th century journalism paints a different picture for the motivation behind sensationalism. Smythe’s explanation for the extreme rise in sensationalism during this period suggests that there are more personal motives behind the sensationalist articles published. Smythe believes that working conditions were a motivator behind the style of journalism in the latter half of the 19th century. Due to the fact that journalists were paid essentially by the word, and were worked "14,16,17" hours (not to mention underpaid), journalists became desperate. Journalists scrambled to find hard hitting stories to make quotas, and often reported in a sensational fashion. They exaggerated stories to generate interest, padding the story to increase its length and thus increase the worth of the story to the publication. In the case of the intensely exaggerated sinking of USS MAINE, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer intensely covered the story, sensationalizing it to the point that a public tension arose. Although the event did not directly lead to the Spanish-American war it decreased the public's acceptance of a peaceful resolution. I believe the stories published during this era of 1880-1900 (specifically around the USS MAINE) are a testament to both Smythe's and Streitmatter interpretation to the driving forces behind sensationalist journalism. The papers published weeks of stories about the Maine to increase leadership and persuade public opinion, while journalists leaped at the opportunity to create long profitable sensationalist stories for their own personal benefit. I quote the media-mogul Bond villain from Tomorrow Never Dies — "There's no news, like bad news."

Unknown said...

According to Smythe, sensationalism was primarily derived from competition from 1880 to the 1900s. During these hard years, the salary for an average reporter was very low – ranging from $10 to $15 dollars per week. However, economic reinforcement became one of the many factors, which contributed to a growing industry for newspapers. Motivation became key for reports who strived to create the best and most interesting stories for higher wages. This incentive led them to believe that doing anything necessary would help them achieve this goal. It involved many illegal practices such as faking or exaggerating the news to give editors what they wanted to hear. Also, it motivated reporters to compete against one another to be first with a story. In contrast, Streitmatter believes that different factors had led to press sensationalism during this time period. For instance, many of the publications established during this time period were for a specific cause or purpose. Whether it was the abolition movement, women’s rights, and other relevant times in history, there were active individuals who took it upon themselves to create a publication that would advocate towards a specific issue, and thus spread awareness to attain public attention.

Unknown said...

Smythe and Streittmatter's views on sensationalist reporting could not be more different. Symth believes that the job security and working conditions of the journalists in the 1800-1900 period pushed them to sensationalize the news to basically survive.

Streitmatter on the other hand believes that journalists in those early days, sensationalized to drive a cause or agenda. For example,Sam Adam's "Journal of Occurrences" basically lied about atrocities carried out by the British troops in the former colonies. Though the "Journal" did reflect the dislike of the British and was successful in bringing that sentiment to boiling point.

I agree with both points of view, it is very difficult to say that journalists reported a certain way because of one circumstance. During the period of 1800-1900 a lot of things were happening e.g wars, depressions and revolutions. Just like anyone else, journalists were affected by these events and were well on the roller-coaster for the ride.

Unknown said...

I believe that Smythe and Streitmatter have very different analysis of the press in the early days of it's importance. Smythe argues that most of the factors that shaped the way stories were handled and written were because of the working conditions, pay, and motives. When space in the paper allowed for drawn out, sensationalized stories, reporters would do just that and were rewarded for it with larger payments. This encouraged the reporters and created reputations of sensationalized journalism. The reporters wrote to fill column space because that's how they were payed. If filling column space meant creating supplementary information creating a fluffed out, exaggerated story, that that's what people would read in the paper.

Streitmatter's book is filled with the ways in which the press system was developed and positively influenced many of the founding and important factors of early independent America. Sensationalism, for Streitmatter, was a for a much more noble cause. If the papers held interesting stories that people would hear about and want to buy and read, more papers would be circulated and the ideas and opinions would be spread at a much higher rate. So in this case, the reporters writing sensationalized stories were working to spread ideas not just for greed and accumulation of wealth.

Unknown said...

In Smythe's article the way journalism is compared to the department store was correct. Reporters are said to give the reader what they want (whether it is of their interest or not). Smythe's interest was more focused on the 19th century. Many of the journalist at the time wanted space on the newspaper or to get the best story. That's the whole point of sensationalism right? to adhere to the public's interest. At most times reporters in the 19th century exaggerated their story, in order to get a good day's pay. Sometimes make up their own news so they can get ahead (just like in the Pulitzer example). Smythe said reporters had "padded" stories to get them past low pay. I think this is possibly how he thinks sensationalism was created, during this time "the more important influences on the news product were the resulting inaccuracies and sensationalism which grew out of (in part) editorial values..." Smythe focused on the conditions and gave reason to why there was such a need for false stories, while Streitmatter focused on the news covered. Streitmatter would agree that the 20th century was a result of how journalism was reports and how sensationalism was created. Yet, Streitmatter seems like he thinks that newspapers lacked responsibility but a lot of the decisions made were just for sensationalism. That's how many of the reporters got their stories and found the news. The news helped provoke many of the historical events such as wars.

Unknown said...

Smythe and Streitmatter share very different ideas on the analysis of the causes of press sensationalism. Smythe believes that the causes are due to working conditions and system of pay. It all goes back to money. For example, he states that reporters' work reflected on how much they were getting paid. They could care less about the content they were creating. He also states that reporters would use unethical methods to get a good story. What I understood from the article was that Smythe is saying reporters and journalists weren't taking their jobs seriously and didn't care about their work. As long as they were getting paid, they felt they were doing their job.

Streitmatter on the other hand believes the complete opposite. As I was reading Mightier than the Sword, I noticed that all the different issues throughout history had people who wanted to spread the word and educate those who had no idea what was happening. They wanted to make a change and they did whatever it took to write stories and get them out to the public. For example, Lovejoy kept getting his printing press thrown away by slavery advocates but that didn't deteriorate him from continuing to write stories. I feel that if this were written in Smythe's article, those reporters would find that as an excuse to not write a story because they weren't properly equipped.

Howie Good said...

another way to think about these issues is to ask yourself what according to these authors moves history, serves as its underlying catalyst, personality or process?

Unknown said...

Sensationalism has played a huge role in how journalism has been shaped throughout American history. Certain events in American history may have never happened without sensationalism. Authors Ted Curtis Smythe and Roger Streitmatter both shed light into the ideas in which they believed were the causes of press sensationalism. Smythe on the one side believed sensationalism started within the industry of journalism and news reporting itself. He believed working conditions in the journalism field had the biggest influenced in starting sensationalism. Reporters and writers in the field always feared they would lose their jobs and get replaced by someone who could do it better. On top of that if they did not come up with a worthy story of being published on a column they risked not being paid or paid very little. These factors being at large, is what Smythe believed had entirely paved the road of sensationalism in the news media in the 19th and 20th century. Strietmatter on the other side believed sensationalism was caused by something entirely different. He believed that sensationalism was fueled by competition between papers and the ideas of democracy. Without it papers lacked sales. It was also able to push American citizens against the government. An example of this is the headline stories made up about the attack on a USS battleship during the Spanish American War era. This led many citizens to stand up against government for not going to war. Overall Strietmatter believed sensationalism had a huge impact on truly shaping America into a true democracy.

RogerG said...

The main difference between what Smyth and Steitmatter posit as the cause for sensationalist reporting has to do with who in the newspaper industry propagated it. Though both believe that the management may have created the conditions in which sensationalism bred, Smyth believes that reporters---those at the bottom of the business---caused sensationalism, whereas Steitmatter believed that the owners of the papers---those at the top---were the cause.

Strietmatter chronicles in-depth the circulation wars between Pulizer's "World" and Hearst's "Examiner" in New York City. This war caused both papers to sensationalize and even fabricate stories. The paper that created the story with the most "clicks" won, but this did not mean be got the story right, or was an ethical journalist. In fact, he was doing the public a great disservice.

Smythe believed that sensationalism was created by reporters that were just looking for enough to get by. It is hard to hold these people accountable, since they were barely paid living wages, and were hoodwinked out of much of the money they DID earn. The managers of the newspapers created these conditions; the workers merely carried them out. However, in the business hierarchy of the newspaper, the local mangers were themselves below the owners---Hearst and Pulitzer. According to Streitmatter, the two made hundreds of millions in today's dollars.

I am reminded of something I once read about the police forces of Northern Mexican cities. These forces were notriously corrupt, bought off by the cartels. The writer of the article pointed out they were paid only a few hundred dollars a month, and suggested tripling this salary would significantly disable the operations of the cartels.

When someone isn't paid a living wage, they are forced to make up the difference with unethical activities. This could be sticking up a 7-11, taking a payoff from a cartel member, or fallaciously sensationalizing a story. It is ridiculous for Hearst and Pulitzer to make such exorbitant amounts of money while paying their much needed workers so little. It's not like they had hundreds of thousands of people working for them...doubling the average reporter's salary would not have cost them much. In many ways, they were no better than the robber-barons that REAL journalists of the era took on.

I tend to believe that Streitmatter's analysis is more accurate. Though reporters certainly sensationalized, they tended to do it to single stories of their own---there would have to be some sort of newspaper company-wide collusion between all of their reporters to really CREATE a long-term story, much less a war. However, the men on top were able to do this with the top-down control they had over the industry.

ALSO!...I'll save this for class, but paying writers by click-through rates is a horrible idea.

Unknown said...

In my opinion, Smythe and Streitmatter have dissimilar opinions of the causes of press sensationalism.
In Smythe's analysis, he states how the cumulative impact of the system of pay, along with working conditions, led to sensational reporting. He argues that the Space system, in which reporters with low wages received a rate per column, were fueled by financial gain to concoct an interesting story, even if there wasn't one. Smythe also contends in his conclusion that the young reporters employed from 1880-1900 contributed to sensationalism because of the errors caused by inexperience and exuberance of the youth.

On the contrary, Streitmatter argues that sensationalism in the 1800s'1900s was induced to influence public opinion and increase newspaper circulation. During the revolutionary war, he explains how colonial editors felt justified in publishing imaginary incidents because it induced hatred against the British, which fueled the fire for the Patriot cause. However, in the 19th century, Streitmatter quotes that the sensationalism demonstrated "journalism without a soul." He explains how during the Hearst-Pulitzer battle, stories were twisted into a sensational form best suited for newspaper sales. The fabricated accounts of Spanish treachery from the Journal and World that instigated a media-fueled war were concocted to reap the benefits of circulation and were motivated by a rivalry.

Although Smythe focuses different causes of sensationalism compared to those Streitmatter discusses, I agree with both perspectives. Perhaps the analysis of each author differ because Smythe focuses on low-wage reporters driven earn a living as the cause, while Streitmatter addresses the motivations of the editors to sensationalize journalism.

Unknown said...

Smythe's idea is that sensationalism is caused by the need for financial gain. Reporters will look in terms of inches and space instead of truth in their reporting. However Streitmatter points out that sensationalism can be used to cause needed changes in society. For example Sam Adam's weekly reports of all the bad deeds British soldiers had done. These events grabbed people's attention and caused a wider spread want for independence. The events were either not true or greatly sensationalized such as an older woman being raped by soldiers after they broke into her home. Sam Adams, as well as Thomas Paine were not looking for financial profit when writing their pieces they were looking for social change. Carr's article is similar to a more modern form of being paid by inch, instead now reporters will be paid by how many clicks they get. Obviously most people will only click on the most sensational stories, so journalist will have to keep up in order to make a living.

Unknown said...

Smythe makes a clear point that sensationalism in the press stems from working conditions- mainly pay related. Journalists were paid notably less than most other professionals throughout the 1880s. By 1880, paying per column was a widespread practice in which reporters were paid a fixed amount for each column their story consumed. This pay ranged from paper to paper but remained universally low. If not paid by column reporters were paid by time, so if they did not have a story materialize they were paid an hourly rate based on the time they had spent on the story- for example 50 cents per hour. The idea of paying per column leads to longer stories that contain less factual information. Reporters are simply looking to fill space with anything they think will grab one’s attention regardless of whether it is true or not. Journalism also began to focus on “exclusive news,” papers were paying more for stories that were not widespread. If a reporter could give a scoop no one else could, he was rewarded with higher pay. The system rewarded sensationalism.
Additionally, during this time period there was abuse on the part of the business managers. They brought in people whose job was to get rid of unnecessary costs, which included reporters and long stories. This struck fear into those employed by such management, they knew if they didn’t get the best story they were out. They needed a story that would wow readers, something worth reading. If a reporter were to just turn in a run-of-the-mill story, he was in jeopardy of being cut from the paper. Smythe states that, “[inaccuracies and sensationalism] grew out of editorial values, parsimonious news budgets and the space system of pay,” the entire system of journalism lead to sensationalized false stories. His whole belief was that paying by space increased competition, which brought about stories that were over-hyped. There was basically warfare among reporters and editors; the reporters need to create a story that would please the editors and secure their jobs. Reporters would shameless drop names, include product names and come up with completely false facts to create a better story. They even worked to together between different papers to come up with the same fake story. They performed illegal operations- hide bodies, got a hold of evidence, paid witnesses- they were doing whatever it took to keep their jobs. Smythe’s belief of the causes of press sensationalism differs greatly from Streitmatter’s ideas; Streithmatter believed that sensationalism was used to promote change and revolution.

It is evident in Mightier than the Sword, that journalism is a means for influencing change. As written in the book, “Revolutions don’t occur because of logic. They require passion, and this emotion element was brought to the movement by a group of radical visionaries fully aware pf the power of the press.” Revolutions and human rights acts are fueled by the press because it gets the public involved and informed. Sam Adams created the “Journal of Occurrences” which was almost entirely false accounts of violent crimes committed by British troops in America. Adams used the fake and exaggerated stories to ignite passion and rage into its readers. In this case, sensationalism is caused by a need for change.

Unknown said...

Throughout the book, Streitmatter made it clear that American history would not be the same without the press. If one wants to get the public involved give them a story they will react to. The falsified reports of British troops mistreatment of Americans is what helped persuade the British government to withdrawal them from America. A good sensationalized story can cause a large uproar leading to change. Moreover, the style of Muckraking can be seen as sensationalism, take for instance The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, it is sometimes regarded as fiction but defended as journalism but either way the wording of the story and the exaggeration of the conditions changed the public's viewpoint. It exposed the world to the harsh reality of factories, and did so in a way that grabbed the reader’s attention. Press sensationalism can be seen as a helpful tool in the liberation of certain peoples and in the spreading of new ideas that call for great change.

Anonymous said...

According to Smythe, sensationalism first came about around 1880 and ran through the early 1990’s. Because times were tough, journalist were fighting for positions in new houses to make money on stories that they were writing. Sensationalism is not about reporting the truth or anything that is “newsworthy”, but writing about what is going to make people more interested in buying or purchasing such newspaper. Another factor that lead many journalist to the practice of sensationalism was the working conditions in which they were put in. They were run down, messy, and not healthy. People were forced to work long hours on stories that wouldn’t even make the headlines. So they started to lie and fabricate stories to make the front page, and to get the rating that were going to move them up in the journalistic world.
Streitmatter on the other hand, believes that journalist practiced sensationalism to drive a “cause or agenda”. He uses the example of Sam Adam’s “Journal of Occurrences”, in which Adam’s lied about the acts that the British troops acted upon in the former colonies. Many of the publications of his time were during periods of revolution and movements for a better cause, so there is always going to be rooms for bias opinion. Lying your way to the top has always been a way of the work place in every single form of work. But in journalism, there is some sort of “ethical code” that we are supposed to live by, but really does anyone actually live by it?

Unknown said...

Symthe and Streitmatter hold different opinions of what drove press sensationalism. Symthe speaks from an economic perspective. His focus is on the pay and desperation for the journalist to keep their job. The journalists would fight to find the most exciting stories because the pay was usually per article. Symthe argues that this along with the poor working conditions, and short careers, contributed to sensationalism journalism.
Although Streitmatter mentions at the start of his book the poor working conditions and fights for the best stories, his focus is on the drive of the individual to change public opinion for a cause. Streitmatter focuses on the influential people who utilized the press to make significant changes in our history in movements such as the abolitionist and the women’s rights movements. For instance, William Lloyd Garrison used his publication, The Liberator to change public opinion with graphic reminders on the cover to illustrate to people the severity of the situation. Streitmatter’s point is that these people fought for the freedom of the press, and for change. He tells the story of Lovejoy and The Observer and how after attempting to buy a fourth typewriter, Lovejoy was murdered by a mob. The people Streitmatter focuses on were heroes, fighting to bring awareness to the public to bring upon change, and they did.

Unknown said...

Smythe and Streittmatter's opinions on press sensationalism are very different from one another. Smythe believes that in earlier days, stories were sensationalized because of worker's concern over pay and job security. Stories were exaggerated for more personal reasons that centered around survival, basically. Journalists would be rewarded if their stories were longer and overemphasized, and they just worked to fill space on a paper rather than state straight forward points. Smythe talks about how reporters wrote "padded stories" to get them past “bill-cutters". This led to not only sensationalism, but inaccuracy as well.

Streitmatter on the other hand believes that people sensationalized in order to change consumer opinions for a certain cause. They wanted to raise awareness even if they had to expose the harshness of situations. An example of this is when the public was being convinced that declaring war against Spanish government was a positive thing. Streitmatter suggests that another large reason for sensationalism was to increase the distribution of the material in order for companies to obtain a higher profit.

KellySeiz said...

While Smythe depicts the somewhat-less-than-ethical journalist in the 1800's as a victim, Streitmatter paints them as saints.

In Smythe's article, the managerial staff comes off as slave-drivers, bill-cutting and encouraging inaccuracy due to the "positive relationship between the system of rewards and the news gathering practice of the day, practices which included sensationalism." In other words, he believed that sensationalism in the news resulted from the cruel working conditions of the average reporter. Sensationalism was a result.

Streitmatter believed that sensationalism was a cause, the puttering engine behind political reform (in some cases) or the bottomless pockets of monopolizing "news barons" (in others).

I don't think that they would disagree with each other...Smythe even admits in his essay's conclusion that his argument wasn't "[suggesting] that sensationalism was caused only by the pay system." There were countless economic, political, and technological factors that led to the questionable media atmosphere of the late 19th century.

Still, I think they may agree that the one all-encompassing condition was capitalism. Without the competition of a private market (one in which we have the freedom to choose entertainment over information - and choose we do), Hearst and Pulitzer would never have relied on sensationalizing their papers for profits. Without the ever-shrinking budgets bringing editors and reporters alike to their knees, they wouldn't have been forced to enforce or manipulate such terrible working conditions.

Unknown said...

Smythe discusses how the economic forces within journalism encouraged the space and time rates to vary. With reporters who were already low-paid under grueling work conditions, the press seemed to be motivated by column inches, rather than public responsibility. Journalists didn’t want to publish a story with just the facts because it wouldn’t take up as much space compared to a story that provided more length and more money to get by on. Reporters were in many cases given twice the pay rate for exclusive stories which not only caused natural competition, but also unethical practices as described in the missing daughter piece. Smythe argues that economic incentives and competitiveness in the field all helped contribute to sensationalism.

Where Smythe criticizes sensationalism being a part of system of unethical behaviors, Streitmatter credits sensationalism for helping encourage the American Revolution among many other historical events. Public responsibility couldn’t fully be acquired with a limited readership and circulation so, it is supposed that newspaper publications practiced sensationalism to increase their reach. He gives us a more courageous, ethical motivation behind these practices of journalism. Streitmatter paints a picture of a Press that is motivated by the need to change the course of history and spread knowledge that would contribute to nearly all revolutions during this time period. While both of these men share different views of the press, I think they would both agree that many factors, whether political or economic, helped shape the values in the field.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Smythe’s analysis of the causes of press sensationalism differ from Streitmatter’s because Smythe believed sensationalism arose from journalists who were paid by the length of their column or story would exaggerate or make up some of the information they wrote just to ensure they filled their allotted space.

In Mightier Than the Sword, Streitmatter explains that sensationalism is used in journalism to become the top selling newspaper to increase its circulation. While the channel ESPN is not a newspaper, it is what I think of when the topic of sensationalizing to increase viewership comes up. Now, they have so many shows where loudmouth “journalists” share their radical viewpoints on topics just to make a headline and blowup Twitter, so the ratings will go and more people will tune in

I think that the idea of sensationalism that Smythe spoke about still applies today. I don’t know if journalists are still paid by the length of their articles, but I do think they know they have certain amount of space to fill, so they exaggerate if they have to, to allow themselves to write enough.

I also think Streitmatter’s view on sensationalism still applies today because news outlets will report on topics that they want to have covered and heard about it. As a result, these stories create headlines to try and create a larger audience.

Gianna said...

After reading both analyses of press sensationalism from Smythe and Streitmatter it is clear that they each have very different views on what its causes were. According to Smythe the reason that sensationalism began was because of the conditions that the reporters were forced to work under. Sensationalism was a means to survival. The more a reporter wrote the more they were paid which is why the exaggeration of stories came to be. Reporters were being forced into long hours of covering a story that if nothing came to be they were not paid for it. The solution to this issue was the creation of stories in order to make the headlines or even to simply get space in the paper at all because this was also the time when pay became about time and space. Due to the horrible pay that the reporters were given if they were given anything at all the fabrication of stories became to mean more than factual reporting. Streitmatter believed the opposite, for him sensationalism was mean to support a particular agenda. The example of Sam Adam’s Journal of Occurrences where Adam’s lied about what occurred with British troops and what they did in the former colonies. The strong negative reactions that were received from the public were a result of the lies that told by Sam Adams. There is also the fact of what was occuring during these times which was revolution and war which makes a difference as to why sensationlism was occurring but do those extenuating circumstances make the lies okay?

Harris Yudin said...

After reading the article, it appears that Smythe and Streitmatter have very different views on the issue of sensationalist reporting.

Smythe talks about how, although it may have been unintentional, this Space System, which rewarded reporters for longer, "exclusive" stories brought about the idea of sensationalism. Reporters would throw in unnecessary, exciting and often inaccurate information simply to make their stories more appealing and receive a higher pay as a result. He argues that sensationalism only really existed during this time period of journalism because it allowed for higher earning for the reporters, and was unintentionally created by the reporters themselves.

Streitmatter, on the other hand, believes that sensationalism was consciously created with the intention of manipulating the public into believing whatever the newspapers said to be true. He argues that attracting readers and selling copies of the newspaper were the most important aspects of the journalism business and, as a result, reporters and editors were willing to print anything that would help them accomplish those goals.

Either way, both Smythe and Streitmatter feel that sensationalism, as a whole, is making a mockery of the journalism industry, for money and newspaper sales should not be the main priorities of journalism, but rather informing the masses. Unfortunately, similar practices still continue to plague the field to this day.

Unknown said...

By the end of the nineteenth century, newspapers took on a similar form to that of newspapers today. The above brief history of newspapers demonstrates the growth of a free press in America. The benefits of a free press in a democracy include: the free and open exchange of ideas including ideas critical of government, widespread distribution of differing views on controversial issues, open debate during local and national elections, and access to information by a literate public. However, a free press is not free of detriments. It would be inaccurate to suggest or imply that the press in particular and the media in general are always responsible and truthful. Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, and William Randolph Hearst, publisher of the New York Journal, battled each other for increased circulation. In New York the World and the Journal were ranked number one and two respectively. Pulitzer and Hearst revolutionized journalism and maintained a heated rivalry for increased circulation. It was this "bitter rivalry (that) gave birth to the double-barreled brand of sensationalism known as yellow journalism"(Streitmatter). Yellow journalism began mainly as a way to put more papers in circulation, but it went too far in its sensationalism - "from distortion and the staging of events to disinformation and the systematic manufacturing of news"(Streitmatter)

Mariah Brown said...

Smythe and Streittmatter have differing views about sensationalism reporting. Smythe believes sensationalizing reporting was a survival tactic of reporters during the 1800’s and 1900’s. This survival tactic Smythe claims was to overcome the poor working conditions of workers and ensure job security.
However, Streitmatter believes differently than Smythe. Streitmatter claims journalists were driven to sensationalize the news by a purpose to execute news in a worthy and attractive way for its readers; it was for a justifiable causes and movements.
I don’t think Smythe or Streittmer are wrong, they both have respective stand points. The time period of 1800-1900 was not an easy place to live as a journalist or any one of any profession of that matter but journalist had a responsibility to tell the news and ensure its readership, to influence and shape the perspectives and opinions of it readers.