Breaking the News: Telegraphy and Yellow Journalism in the Spanish-American War
- American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism
- The Ohio State University Press
- Volume 26, Number 2, 2016
- pp. 130-148
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This essay reengages the familiar topic of yellow journalism through the historical and formal discontinuities introduced by electrical telegraphy during the Spanish-American War. It places popular newspapers such as William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World in the context of signal-processing technologies such as telegraphy and the wire-based press, which allowed for the manipulation of alphanumeric data through electrical signals. By breaking down the continuities of communication into discrete series and signals, telegraphy created the conditions necessary to coordinate action at a distance through the manipulation of serial data: the signs, signals, and other discrete bits of intelligence that were actively reconstructed by newspapers to produce the continuous spectacle of war news and sensational journalism.