According to Britannica, “Yellow Journalism”, is the use of lurid features and sensationalized news in newspaper publishing to attract readers and increase circulation. Oxford dictionary defines yellow journalism as “type of journalism that relies on exaggeration and sensationalism in order to draw in readers”.
The term “yellow journalism” was coined in the 1890s to describe the tactics employed in a furious competition between two New York City newspapers the Worldand the Journal.The aim is that the reader will choose one publication over its competitor. Newspapers were the original source to inform people of the events, issues, etc. long before radio and television were invented. In order to keep their sales high, newspaper publishers began incorporating new strategies to attract larger number of readers. This gave birth to yellow journalism. During this period, publishers saw great opportunity to increase their revenue through the use of yellow journalism.
Yellow journalism originated as freedom of speech was controlled by the state in 2002 (BBC), starting with appointment of President Gayoom who was in power for three decades before being voted out (BBC).
A modern approach of yellow journalism is Click bait. Click bate is in the form of online adverts or pop up links which are examples of the modern version of yellow journalism. For instance, it is not uncommon for a click bait article to be paired up with a shocking image that has absolutely nothing to do with that article. The sole purpose of that image is to make people interested enough to click the link. Once readers have followed the link, they will find some non-substantive or even completely false article that is surrounded by, and teeming with, advertisements. Click bate is often found in every form ofinternet-related search from Netflix to twitter. The population is very much likely to be drawn to a click bate site.A very common way of applying this practice of yellow journalism is through comics and doctored photographs. Especially in politics where one Member of Parliament would fabricate information with no proof about another resulting in the endless application of the news provided in order to gain for once own campaign. Thus newspapers publish these in the form of comics
Although this may seem like a general characterization of yellow journalism it is a quite accurate description of Maldivian press.
Yellow journalism is characterized by the following:
Journalism in the Maldives is on a backslide as the freedom of speech is restricted by the corrupt oppressive authorities. Pressgrazett Rasheed says “Things are very bad for Maldives press right now”.The role of ‘journalists’ like the editor of pro-government media “Avas”and the establishments that prop such people up, was crucial in bringing to an end the Maldives’ democratic transition. Yellow journalismis playing an equally crucial role in strengthening the current government’s authoritarianism, writes AzraNaseem a Maldivian journalist.
The Maldives is also a place where journalists face the risk of imprisonment and even death for reporting the truth. There are instances where reporters and journalist disappearing. Pressgrazett a Maldivian news media once wrote of a colleague Ahmed Rilwan who went missing for more than 1,000 days. This colleague wrote about criminal gangs, Islamic extremism and politics. He wasreportedly last seen being forced at knifepoint into a vehicle outside his house
“Reporterswithout Borders” ranks the country, 117 out of 180 in the world for press freedom. There is an ongoing effort to improve and protect the freedom of speech of journalists around the island.
Since the 2012 coup d’état the Maldives government has sought to control the media and most recently, in August 2016, passed a law criminalizingdefamation. On World Press Freedom day, Press Gazette highlighted the repression suffered by journalists working in The Maldives. This was an effort to make awareness of their situation amongst other journalists around the world. However the Maldivian persecution amongst journalists has not decreased. Although there is a struggle to write,journalists do manage to use lurid features and sensationalize the articles.
Often melodramatic words such as “astounding” or “top secret” are used to lure readers into reading thesefabricated news. It is considered an unethical practice. Often authors of these phony articles feed off of terrifying or horrific stories or nonexistent scandals. Humans thrive on the thrill of knowing private controversial things about others. Thus this kind of articles appeals to the masses. Even with constant government oppressiontowards journalists, Maldivian journalists’ pursue yellow journalism as it is one of the few methods of making the public aware of the corrupt officials.
All types of yellow journalism can be found in the nation. Yellow journalism is not only present in the entertainment industry but also used heavily in politics. In order to gain favour and the vote of the general public, creating fabricated news or paying a tabloid or newspaper to tarnish a fellow candidate’s reputation is common in the Maldives. These articles are more often than not are the deciding factors to tarnish fellowcandidate’s campaign. In the Maldives it is also used to manipulate people’s minds to think a particular way and behave in a manner which the Authority who is often funding the journalists want them to.
The population is led to believe that all news is absolutely true even though it is full of mudslinging and character assassination. However it has to be mentioned that through the use of yellow journalism, journalists in the Maldives have been able to express views on crucial topics. However this is only effective on independent print and electronic media as most media is state controlled.
Examples of yellow journalism are as follows:
· The disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan: A timeline
· Maldives president accused of failure to disclose finances
· MPs barred entry as Maldives parliament shortens term
In the Maldives journalists are often resorted to writing yellow articles. There are many reasons. The most crucial reason is the fear instilled into journalist by the government authorities by killing who ever writes in their own free will. Often journalists are murdered by authorities for inquiring or researching controversial anti government topics. Another critical reason as to why one would choose yellow journalism in the Maldives is the lack of information freely available without a death sentence attached to it thus writing non factual articles. Yellow journalism has become a way of communicating to the general public of what the government wants to hide, and a way for the government to manipulate the population through exaggeration and sensationalismto sway public opinion on important issues such as the Spanish-American war.
The following are the impacts of Yellow Journalism on society.
Yellow journalism is not against the law. Organizations such as the Commission on Freedom of the Press, chaired by Robert M. Hutchins, issued a report in 1947, A Free and Responsible Press (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1947) which urged the press to be “socially responsible.”However, news provided in yellow circulations is not given high news value by authorities. It is mostly considered as inflammatory and irresponsible reporting.There is a freedom of speech one must be responsible in the way you use this freedom .However must also use this freedom to express the views of the suppressed, oppressed and reveal the corrupt ways of authoritative figures .A major factor which may not allow this to take place is the restricted access available to the truth. In an industry thriving through feeding of emotions one must truly rethink their humanity when in both writing and reading any given article..But the myth endures, defaming yellow journalism while offering a convenient if entirely misleading parable about the power of the news media.
Sources-PBS,BBC,The policy times,Britiannics,Huffpost,Standford Edu
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE PROTECTION AND FREEDOM OF JOURNALISTS