Md Tamhidul Islam
Funny how the dubious news of the sunken U.S.S. Maine flag posting the pointless battle of selling news between crazy New Yorkers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph would live to sustain its torch for 130 years. Pretty much anybody who can read has encountered an unbelievably bold headline equipped with eye-widening images at some point in their lives.
Yellow journalism aka fake news adorned with exaggerations, sensationalism, scandal-mongering, etc. has played a relentlessly annoying role in the world of the 21st century. While it was presumed this evil form of “news” would go down to never return, along with the Spanish-American War, it didn’t. The system improvised with changing atmospheres, acquired diverse sets of arsenals to be more effective, and is currently on its way to influence our micro-level life choices and thought processes.
How far have we reached up until this point? It’s fair to say we’ve seen titles including “Vampires Attack US Troops”, “Botox Mom”, “Abraham Lincoln was a woman”, and “Dolphin grows human arms.” Undoubtedly, entertaining stories like these would be absolute treats to binge-read, except for the fact we are unlikely to find any relevance between the news headline and the actual news (if there’s any).
Most incentives behind yellow journalism tactics are based on three basic principles: Financial motives, political agendas, and lowkey sustainability. If you use around even 1% of your brain’s cerebral capacity, you’ll see that all of these reasons are analogous to potential terribly reported news and misguidance for innumerable readers. Click-baits are used to get more readers to read the news and increase the portal’s sustained reader pool. Logically, any person clicking on a thumbnail link to see if their cat is from Mars is something they can’t be blamed for.
However, if it remained within the limits of obscure dad jokes, I wouldn’t be writing this article. But when news agencies get tipped off by political parties and “Too big to fail” corporations to produce populistic news in favour of them and eventually change the subconscious of the readers and manipulate them, mold them, mislead them towards a path of selfish wrongdoings, there’s only so much we can do to stay ignorantly silent.
Websites with typos in their names and domains manage to influence target audiences to do a range of things starting from sharing fake news to subscribing to a political ideology which doesn’t exist. How does this affect us?
Primarily, we fall into an inescapable limbo of confusion where we can’t decide on what to believe and what not to believe. At the same time, we lose the ability to think and reach conclusions by ourselves independently, which turns us into reprogrammable factory machinery.
Secondarily, corporate lynch mobs like you know who get to run for elections and eventually win, disrupting both our peace of mind and philanthropic policy structures. The roots of yellow journalism go farther back than simple fake news. Oftentimes, various widely acclaimed and verified news portals use their social acceptance and leverage that against the people by nudging them towards biased positions.
Finally, perhaps the most consequential impact of yellow journalism is best off left as an open-ended question. Can we trust the media, and if yes, to what extent? The fact that we have to get out of the way of the ethics which the media was created on and contemplate trust, is in itself an irrevocable failure.
Journalism was, is, and will be a staple in our lives. In order for us to control its path of righteousness, we ought to let go of all the control that currently exists over journalism.
“Journalism is an act of faith in the future”— whether we embrace it or succumb to it is up to us.
The writer is a part of the TDA Editorial Team.