The world can accredit William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer with the creation of yellow journalism. These men were both newspaper barons who waged a fierce competition with each other. It began when the industrial revolution brought about the printing press. Suddenly, overnight, a multitude of newspapers could be printed . Pulitzer’s paper, New York World, was New York City’s number one newspaper. Soon after, Hearst procured the New York Journal, and the competition began. That is the history of yellow journalism. It never had anything to do with content. It was specifically designed to sell you a paper…no matter what. The vehicle they used is sensationalism. This began between 1880-1890, and it still works today…with very good reason. It is written to your senses, not your mind. The best anyone can do is develop an opinion, as there is never any research behind it. In effect, yellow journalism, is actually predisposed opinion impersonating impartial fact.
Today it is more than just your newspaper. It is media as a whole. Many articles are simply cut and pasted from some other sensational news presentation. Pulitzer and Hearst used the printing press to flood the world with shock. Likewise, today we have twenty-four hour cable news stations. They are all in competition. There are several harmful consequences to media sensationalism. From Yellow Journalism to invigorated commentators, (medialoid) the media has become abusive. As with any form of abuse, it leaves scars. In the case of Michael Jackson, it may have been fatal. In addition, Michael Jackson fans have suffered extreme distress. Imagine someone slapping you in the face every day for twenty years. You are going to be bruised.
However, the news does not have to be about Michael Jackson. It is simply that through the death of Michael Jackson that these problems were recognized. Sensationalism results in fear or excitement, they are the same emotion. The difference is, with excitement you have control over what might have been an extremely frightening experience, like riding a high roller coaster for example. Particularly challenging, is news that is conveyed to promote peril, be it physical or psychological. The overwhelming response to this type of journalism is fight (anger and rage) or flight (avoidance). It is called an acute stress response. This “acute stress response”, is our body’s primitive, automatic, inborn answer to crisis. Yellow journalism, which creates a crisis, is created to bypass the person’s rational mind. It immediately attacks the reader/listeners/viewers emotions. According to Wikipedia, there are several matters to consider.
“A number of physiological changes take place in the body when a person senses something potentially threatening. The brain sends warning signals through the central nervous system. The adrenal glands begin producing hormones (adrenalin and noradrenalin) which cause the heart to beat faster and breathing to become more rapid. Muscles tense and pupils dilate. At this stage the person’s body gets ready to do one of two things: Confront the threat and deal with it, or get as far away from the threat as fast as possible. The release of these hormones causes the following.
1)Speeds the heart rate,
2) Slows digestion,
3)Shunting blood flow to major muscle groups.
This gives the body an unusual burst of strength. Once the perceived threat passes, systems are designed to return to normal function via the relaxation response”.
The problem is, the person does not get a chance to return to normal, because the report continues to come in as long as the story sells. Consequently, the story sells non-stop because the people do not get a chance to return to normal. In addition Ultimately it is emotional abuse. Our goal is not to change journalistic tactics, but to teach people how to recognize such journalism, and seek news from a less harmful source.
The following excerpt is from “ The Mind Body Education Center” It is entitled “Fight or Flight’” written by Neil F. Neimark, M.D. You can find the entire article at: http://www.thebodysoulconnection.com/EducationCenter/fight.html
I highly recommend it;
“When our fight or flight response is activated, sequences of nerve cell firing occur and chemicals like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are released into our bloodstream. These patterns of nerve cell firing and chemical release cause our body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes. Our respiratory rate increases. Blood is shunted away from our digestive tract and directed into our muscles and limbs, which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting. Our pupils dilate. Our awareness intensifies. Our sight sharpens. Our impulses quicken. Our perception of pain diminishes. Our immune system mobilizes with increased activation. We become prepared—physically and psychologically—for fight or flight. We scan and search our environment, “looking for the enemy.
When our fight or flight system is activated, we tend to perceive everything in our environment as a possible threat to our survival. By its very nature, the fight or flight system bypasses our rational mind—where our more well thought out beliefs exist—and moves us into “attack” mode. This state of alert causes us to perceive almost everything in our world as a possible threat to our survival. As such, we tend to see everyone and everything as a possible enemy. Like airport security during a terrorist threat, we are on the lookout for every possible danger. We may overreact to the slightest comment. Our fear is exaggerated. Our thinking is distorted. We see everything through the filter of possible danger. We narrow our focus to those things that can harm us. Fear becomes the lens through which we see the world.”
Constant trepidation affects your brain, causing ongoing triggering of fear. In the case of yellow journalism, it is usually someone selling you the idea that what you believed was wrong. The Michael Jackson story sold because the world knew he was a humanitarian and did many things for children. When the allegations of child abuse hit, it challenged what we delighted in, trusted and believed. We felt betrayed, hurt and confused. Many of us kept following the story to get a better understanding of what happened. Sadly, we were given the same information over and over. Ultimately we felt the fear that comes with betrayal. If through media we are constantly barraged by the same frightening information every day, it affects brain activity, and causes disease, affecting your brain cells.
With fear, we either confront it or run from it. In the case of yellow journalism, stories may be unending. Thus, the person undergoes the same emotion over, even years later. It is like the movie Ground Hog Day… it is conditioning. If it is fear caused by mistrust, we begin to scrutinize many who are around us. All that is needed is a situation similar to what we have experience vicariously through the news, and the fear of mistrust is triggered. We become infected by social phobia, it is an illness.
ScienceDaily (May 23, 2008) — The brain centers triggered by a betrayal of trust have been identified by researchers, who found they could suppress such triggering and maintain trust by administering the brain chemical oxytocin. The researchers said their findings not only offer basic insights into the neural machinery underlying trust; the results may also help in understanding the neural basis of social disorders such as phobias.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 19, 2006)-Dr. Nathan said the study showed that functional magnetic resonance imaging could be used to monitor activity in the amygdala and therefore predict the level of clinical symptoms in generalized social phobia patients.
“Our findings suggest that amygdala activation to interpersonal threat can be specifically linked to the severity of social anxiety symptoms of individual patients with generalized social phobia,” he said. Thus, it may serve not only as a useful functional marker of disease severity, but also as a marker of the effectiveness of pharmacological and psychological.
“A calf lies dead in the slatted stall in which it stood for all of its life, with no mother, sunlight or decent food. This is the fate of a calf raised for veal” http://www.britishmeat.com/veal.html .
The veal crate is a wooden restraining device that is the veal calf’s permanent home. It is so small (22″ x 54″) that the calves cannot turn around or even lie down and stretch and is the ultimate in high-profit, confinement animal agriculture.(1) Designed to prevent movement (exercise), the crate does its job of atrophying the calves’ muscles, thus producing tender “gourmet” veal. T http://www.britishmeat.com/veal.html .
The calf is abused and often kept in small dark places to induce fear. The hormones that are produced from fear are what give veal its distinct flavor. The calf undergoes a state of fight or flight, but can do neither. It’s small body is saturated in terror.
It is not that different with us. The effect of fear permeates our entire body. When we read about debt ceilings, wars, and other matter that mat threaten our life or lifestyle it causes fear. Like the little calf, a mammal like us, our bodies respond to fear and undergo changes as well. We will exhibit an acute stress response, the fight or flight response, if you will. Sadly, the calf designated to be used as veal has no escape or defense so he can do neither. With non-stop yellow journalism, the same thing is applicable to us. Sensationalism surrounds us, in the news, on television, and even if we watch a movie. It is inescapable, thus we live in a nonstop state of fight or flight.
According to Dr. Neimark, the fight or flight response was built into all animals. It was for fighting a bear perhaps. Today there are no bears. There are traffic jams, the boss who humiliates you, and there is yellow journalism”. We think it is critical for us to learn to recognize yellow journalism. It is extremely important to understand that that the fight or flight response bypasses our minds, because it is animalistic. In fact all animals possess this ability. Even insects know to run from danger… it has nothing to do with the mind processing information, despite how sophisticated and intelligent we may think we are.
Carl Zimmer said, “Unfortunately, our exquisitely sophisticated brains may make this predator-defense circuit vulnerable to misfiring. Instead of monitoring just the threats right in front of us, we can also imagine threats that do not exist. Feeding this imagination into the early-warning system may lead to crippling chronic anxiety. In other cases, people may not be able to keep their periaqueductal gray [is the gray matter located around the cerebral aqueduct within the tegmentum of the midbrain] and other midbrain regions under control.
As we perceive predators getting closer, our brains normally make the switch from the forebrain to the midbrain regions. People who suffer panic disorders may misjudge threats, seeing them as far more imminent than they really are.” http://www.everythingology.com/how-fear-affects-the-brain/
With Michael Jackson, because of the effects of yellow journalism, many of his fans either abandoned him (flight), or said cruel things about him (fight). Recently, fans revisited Kiss. Kiss made video’s where they literally beat a Michael Jackson look alike, displaying an extreme fight response. The people we call haters are actually people who have been deeply affected by all the yellow journalism that was published over approximately two decades. They are in the fight mode, if you ask them why, they will not be able to explain. As incredible as it is, we may be witnessing behavior that is the result of fear. They are suffering from an acute stress disorder, a social phobia, and they are ill.
What can we do about it?
First, we can learn to recognize when we are seeing yellow journalism. It has a very distinct format. Almost the same format can be applied to television. The anchor man will constantly repeat the headline in a variety of ways. Some shows actually read the headlines from the paper, and sensationalize it further. They don’t have pictures…they have sound bites and videos. They do fake interviews as well. There are also news shows that report directly from Twitter. It is opinion news. In order to justify what they are doing, they now have deemed all social networks, social media.
Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics:
1. headlines in huge print, often of minor news
2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo-science, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
4. Emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips (which is now normal in the U.S.)
5. Dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system.
It is also advisable to recognize the top tabloid, or papers that promote yellow journalism. These papers are by no means the only papers that promote yellow journalism. There are many, many more.
Top 5 Worst Papers-
For television, the best thing we can do is recognize it for what it is, watch it once, and let it go. Most 24 hour cable news stations do not have enough news, so they re-run the same news over and over, all day and all night. This is harmful to you, the viewer. All of the cable news stations have a “spin”, CNN, FOX, and MSNBC.
Change the channel, change your viewing habits. This is difficult because the sensationalism does not go away. You will see it again somewhere. You will hear people talking about it and you will even see it on the internet. If you choose to listen, you will find that the story will increase in its amount of negativity. If it does not, it will cease to be sensational. You will see that it was about nothing…it was only to sell a paper. So, watch it once if you choose, then move on to something else. Look at it this way. Suppose you loved cake. There may not be any harmful effects to eating a small piece (if your diet permits), however, if you sit there and eat the entire cake you will surely suffer the consequence of doing so.
We can also recognize authentic journalism. It too, has a distinct format. The following informationis taken from “Journalist Code of Ethics.” http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp These are only some of the qualities that we expect from an honest journalist.
— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
— Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
— Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
— Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
— Never plagiarize.
— Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
— Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
— Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
— Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
— Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
— Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
— Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
— Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.
None of those things were observed in the case of Michael Jackson. It is for that reason that we have a spotlight on the media. We do not expect to change the media. However, we can change ourselves. We bought every paper, read every word, listened intently to every lie and watched every medialoid show. What we are looking at is why, and we are finding ways to change. We can monitor our response to such media, as well as begin to write news that simply gives a message without the element of shock. Clearly, we have to make changes in the way information is obtained and presented to us. It is time to end our addiction to tabloid media. It is time to stop feasting on lies.
MJJJusticeProject, Inc.-Rev. Dr.Catherine M.Gross
“It’s a complete lie, why do people buy these papers? It’s not the truth I’m here to say. You know, don’t judge a person, do not pass judgement, unless you have talked to them one on one. I don’t care what the story is, do not judge them because it is a lie.”