The Age of DISinformation
By Aiden West
Critics of Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal used the term “yellow journalism” to characterize the sensational journalism. By creating stories of hyperbole and human interest stories, these newspapers were able to sell more copies than their competitors. Most of these stories were seemingly harmless, at least on a small scale. until the Spanish-American War where sensationalism helped pushed the United States into a war with Spain. Most people viewed journalism as being in their best interest and had no reason to expect propaganda.
However, the invention of the internet gave hope to many people that mainstream news could be corrected and the people would be more informed than ever. This would be because the mainstream news would no longer be able to control narratives and therefore dictate our lives. Instead, mainstream news found a way to evolve and individuals that sought to correct faults could only disagree with each other. Adding in social media began to make discourse worse as people post their opinions and back them up with unsubstantiated facts or claims.
It is even harder to get a clear picture of world news when everybody has their own agendas. The sentiment of mainstream media being fake news carries a strong weight nowadays and helps people discard any coverage by media outlets. This also makes it easier to just claim something is fake without pointing to specifics and backing up your claim with facts. It is even harder to do when even the facts are not agreed upon. There can also be an insular effect where people view their preferred media as correct and all others that oppose as fake. More and more, information is easier to access which makes it harder to know what to exactly look for when there is so much to scrounge through and verify.
Yellow journalism added sensationalism into the news, which can be tolerable in certain instances but starts creating issues when covering matters of importance. The worst part about yellow journalism is that it works and is profitable. Real coverage is unengaging for viewers and is often difficult. Yellow journalism creates an easy solution if people want to stay informed and entertained. But with so much information and disinformation and no clear way to distinguish the two, sensationalism often wins and the real coverage is concealed. Considering this, it is believable that people would cling to conspiracies that confirm all their suspicions and support that all their problems stem from secret elites instead of the obvious ones right in front of their eyes. Years of this, have caused more disinformation to be spread and people to begin a narrative journey that denies facts and view the world through a myopic lens leading to an age of disinformation.