Yellow journalism

Yellow Journalism is a term first coined during the famous newspaper wars between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer II. Pulitzer’s paper the New York World and Hearst’s New York Journal changed the content of newspapers adding more sensationalized stories and increasing the use of drawings and cartoons. A brief history of newspapers in America A brief history of newspapers in America

Yellow Journalism occurs when the press recklessly speculates in sensational stories based on exaggerations and/or outright lies and/or personal attacks. We may not have a pure yellow press in Norway, but I think we see elements of it in most newspapers. A lawyer in The Norwegian Press Association, Kristine Foss, contacted State Attorney Ingvild Thorn Nordheim a few months ago. The purpose was for journalists to get access to the procecutor’s photo evidence in a specific case, but it was rejected. What was the point of it? Do they want show pictures of the victims?


I have previously written about an uncritical media in the case where 90 -year-old Arne Pedersen refused to wear a life vest in his boat. When I investigated the matter, it turned out that the man had a history of ignoring the law. When he was stripped of his carlicense, for example, he continued driving without one.


I have also written about little Marwan (4), which according to several media outlets in Norway fled alone through the desert (from Syria to Jordan) carrying a bag bigger than himself. According to the story he couldn’t find his parents and crossed a desert looking for them. A news anchor in CNN may have started this when she posted a photo on twitter, but it was easy to verify facts in this case. The story is still gripping, but the truth is that the boy was far from alone. No one checked the facts because they were desperate for something sensational.


I think we’re looking at something very yellow in the Norwegian media’s media coverage of the Dalai Lama issue. I am epecially thinking about the Dagbladet-article I referred to in ‘A Peaceful Leader’. I wrote about a protest against the Dalai Lama.


The fact is that the Dalai Lama has worked to isolate a branch of Buddhism which he believes is evil . Dagbladet, cites Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Robert Thurman, at Columbia University in New York. He is described as a supporter of the Dalai Lama. According to Robert Thurman, Shugden Buddhism “is certainly no peaceful group that just wants to be left alone with their religion. They are both verbally and even physically fighting the violent and aggressive battle to discredit the Dalai Lama” (translated from Norwegian).


It is difficult to know who is right here, but I react to Dagbladet using a professor The New York Times calls “The Dalai Lama ‘s man in America,” to build a case that Shugden Buddhists are part of the Chinese propaganda apparatus. Most religions go in different directions. There is something in us humans that make consensus difficult, but for some reason we don’t want this to be the case in Buddhism.


But this is not just Dagbladet. The Huffington Post has blogs on their website, and Robert Thurman is one their bloggers. I think it’s interesting that they have let Thurman use this popular platform to publish his opinions when in this post he refers to Shugden Buddhists as a cult. There seems to be a propaganda/information war that China (and the press?) may be complicit in, but unfortunately there are no winners in this battle, perhaps least of all truth.


3 thoughts on “Yellow journalism

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