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19 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 789 (2005)
Sensationalism in the Newsroom: Its Yellow Beginnings, the Nineteenth Century Legal Transformation, and the Current Seizure of the American Press

handle is hein.journals/ndlep19 and id is 795 raw text is: SENSATIONALISM IN THE NEWSROOM: ITS
YELLOW BEGINNINGS, THE NINETEENTH
CENTURY LEGAL TRANSFORMATION, AND THE
CURRENT SEIZURE OF THE AMERICAN PRESS
JESSICA E. JACKSON*
INTRODUCTION
The media-a time capsule-captures our world in words
and images as it is at this very moment. Today's newspaper tells
us something about the world we live in, the local news captures
the pulse of the town, and the radio shares the current headlines
in between popular songs. The media not only reports the news
to its current audience; it captures the moment for posterity. As
it stands today, the media is in a position to maintain a distorted
image of today's events for our ancestors. With sensational head-
lines and inaccuracies, the media has become a less credible
source. Speculation in reporting leads to a speculative audience,
which, in turn, diminishes the reliability of the news.
This brand of reporting was first witnessed, and was in its
prime, at the end of the nineteenth century, during the heyday
of Yellow Journalism.' Characterized by prominent headlines
that 'screamed excitement,' . . . [a] 'lavish use of pictures,' . . .
'frauds of various kinds,' . . . a Sunday supplement and color
comics.... [and] 'campaigns against abuses suffered by the com-
mon people,' Yellow Journalism served an entertainment,
rather than educational, function. The media today embodies
each of these characteristics and, if left to develop, will produce a
meaningless press.
This Note aims to identify the legal, ethical, and public pol-
icy concerns inherent in the press today and their relation to the
press of time past. Part I gives a brief history of Yellow Journal-
ism, its definition, origins, and implications. Parts II and III
* J.D. Candidate, 2005, University of Notre Dame Law School. This Note
would not have been possible without the assistance and kindness of Professors
Patricia Bellia and Robert Rodes, without the inspiration of my fellow ThomasJ.
White Scholars and Rev. John H. Pearson, and without the love and support of
my parents, James and Cynthia Jackson.
1. See generally W. JOSEPH CAMPBELL, YELLOWJOURNALISM: PUNCTURING THE
MYTHS, DEFINING THE LEGACIES 1 (2001) (describing nineteenth-century report-
ing practices).
2. Id. at 7.

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