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Reproduction of newspaper with large headline about Spain’s guilt.

“Spain Guilty!”

Soon after the explosion of the USS Maine, newspapers in the United States crafted bold headlines that blamed the ship’s destruction on a Spanish mine. This example, from March 25, 1898, appeared in the New York Journal, whose publisher was William Randolph Hearst. While a naval board of inquiry was unable to confirm Spanish involvement in the attack, the press helped rally popular support for war. 

The New York Journal had recently congratulated itself for promoting “journalism of action,” a new genre that sought to stimulate readership by participating in social and political causes. However, not all were convinced by this creed. 

The term “yellow journalism” first appeared in the New York Press to condemn sensationalism and distortion of information within the New York Journal and the New York World, published by Hearst’s rival, Joseph Pulitzer. A negative term, it is still used today to criticize journalistic misconduct.

New York Journal’s front page, March 25, 1898
74.9 × 59.7 cm (29 1/2 × 23 1/2")
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.