William Hearst INTRODUCTION American journalism and mass media were both profoundly influenced by a very dominating figure. In the last decade of the 19th century up until the end of the first half of the 20th century, William Randolph Hearst was a mega-force to be reckoned with. Hearst was a famous American publisher who built up the nation’s largest chain of newspapers. He was also a political figure and one of the leading figures during the Spanish-American War period.
In his newspapers, he introduced a sensational journalistic style of writing and spent millions of dollars to fascinate and captivate readers. This kind of journalism was described by critics as “Yellow Journalism.” During his lifetime, even up until today, he has been respected, feared, loathed and envied by his friends and enemies alike.A man in his position was capable of being the greatest constructor or the most destructive evil of the Nation. BIOGRAPHY On 29th day of April 1863, in San Francisco, California, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, in great torment, gave birth to a boy in her bedroom.
The boy was named William Randolph Hearst. William Randolph Hearst was the only child of George and Phoebe Hearst. His father, George Hearst ( 1820-1891 ), was not born into a rich and wealthy family.He did his share of the labor at a lead mine near his home. Mining had always fascinated him even from his childhood years. He later earned the nickname the “Boy-That-Earth-Talked-To” from the miners he was working with. With tremendous luck, hard working and blessings, he worked his way to become a multimillionaire miner and had also become a United States Senator from California ( 1886-1891 ).
His mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst ( 1842-1919 ), was a philanthropist and a school teacher from Missouri.She had gained national fame for her gifts to needy students and educational institutions. While Hearst was a boy, his father traveled throughout the West, from Mexico to Alaska, becoming a partner in three of the largest mining discoveries ever recorded in American history: the Comstock ( silver ) Lode in Nevada, the Homestake ( gold ) Mine in South Dakota and the Anaconda (copper) Mine in Montana. These three findings paved George Hearst the way to his millions. George Hearst, in October of 1880, bought a small daily newspaper called the San Francisco Examiner. He saw that the ownership of this newspaper can be used as a political organ and would be beneficial to him.George took steps to improve the Examiner by hiring Emanuel Katz as the general manager and expanded the workforce. Despite the fact that he did make some efforts in the newspaper business, he had shown very little interest in the industry.
At that time, he was very interested in politics and later became a United States Senator from California as it was mentioned above. In the fall of 1882, William Randolph Hearst, aged nineteen, entered Harvard University. But Hearst did not stay in Harvard University for long before being expelled in 1885 because of practical jokes he played on the professors.
Around the year 1884 – 1885, William wrote a letter to his father requesting that he be entitled to take over the San Francisco Examiner. One of the sentences from the letter he wrote to his father was “Now if you should make over to me the Examiner – with enough money to carry out my schemes – I’ll tell you what I would do!” His father had hoped that William would inherit the management of his mining and ranching interests but William denied his father’s desire.So on the 7th of March 1887, William Randolph Hearst took control and became the proprietor of his father’s struggling newspaper, San Francisco Examiner. Hearst, aged 23 then, showed a lot of versatility and was ascertained to make this newspaper popular. Many believed that Hearst was simply an amateur.
He quickly set about disproving that by dedicating long hours and much energy to the newspaper. As owner and also the editor of the newspaper, he accumulated the best equipment, improved its appearance and its relationship with the advertisers. Most importantly, he hired the most talented journalists possible.He nicknamed the paper “The Monarch of the Dailies.” In order to boost circulation, Hearst published a lot of news articles regarding corruption and motivating stories filled with drama. That type of journalism became the trademark of the San Francisco Examiner and of Hearst’s journalism.
Hearst, combining sensationalism with a civic reform campaign, made his newspaper prospered within a few years. In 1895, Hearst moved to New York City and entered the New York City newspaper market by purchasing a second newspaper, the unsuccessful New York Morning Journal. One year later, he began the publication of the Evening Journal.His newspaper, the Morning Journal, entered into a series of fierce head-to-head circulation wars with his former mentor Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the New York World. In order to defeat his competitors, Hearst hired such proficient writers as Stephen Crane and Julian Hawthorne and raided the New York World for some of Joseph Pulitzer’s best men, particularly Richard F. Outcault, the inventor of color comics. He also made some very intelligent and strategic moves as he tried to out-maneuver Pulitzer. Hearst simply hired Pulitzer’s writers with more money.
He recruited many very talented writers including Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Richard Harding Davis and the talented sketch artist Frederic Remington. Many factors had contributed to the success of the New York Journal. Factors such as price reduction of one cent; expanding it to sixteen pages; increasing the use of many illustrations, adding color magazine sections and glaring headlines; including sensational articles on crime, pseudoscientific and foreign affair topics.
Although Hearst suffered great financial loss from taking those actions to improve the newspaper in the beginning; however, within months, the combined daily circulation of the Morning Journal and the Evening Journal had reached the unprecedented figure of 1.5 million sales. Hearst played a vital role in provoking the American public’s anger by publishing exaggerated news on what the Spanish did in Cuba.In order to surpass Pulitzer, Hearst ran a series of articles in his newspapers blaming the Spanish for the sinking of the USS Maine with a mine. He also wrote many stories on Cuba that were greatly exaggerated to make them more sensational.
That was when the term “Yellow Journalism” came in. Hearst also wrote other stories with exaggerations to capture the American public. More and more Americans, entranced by the outrageous stories, started buying his newspapers. That had encouraged Hearst to write even more of those stories.The news articles on Cuba not only brought interest but also anger to the American public. The last straw was when one of Hearst’s reporters, Richard Harding Davis, reported the story on how Clemencia Arango was being kicked and stripped searched by Spanish detectives.
That greatly angered the American public, even when the story was corrected to say that Arango was searched by another woman, not the detectives. Hearst, with his newspapers, had secured the public on his side and the government had no choice but to declare war on Spain. Because of his leading role in arousing the war, he was given the nickname, the “Father of Yellow Journalism.” On the 28th day of April 1903, the day before Hearst’s fortieth birthday, William Randolph Hearst married Millicent Wilson in New York City. For their honeymoon, they drove across the European continent. That trip inspired Hearst to launch his first magazine, Motor.That had …