Yellow Fever

Friday, April 03, 2009


Last week, Slate’s press critic Jack Shafer wrote in praise of yellow journalism: “At its best it was terrific, at its worst it wasn’t that bad.” So, does the yellow stuff deserve its tawdry reputation? We asked W. Joseph Campbell, author of Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the Myths, Defining the Legacies.

Comments [1]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Ah, now finally on to the Yellow Kid.

The first time I heard of him was when Darius James suggested the phrase or name as a possible masthead for a cartoon magazine Jason Dubin, while he was at Yale, and I were planning on publishing. We got out one issue and eventually called it Carmic Book.

It must have been an extremely powerful vehicle for it to have given the lead character's name to the entirety of the Gilded Age's equivalent of advocacy or gonzo journalism. So powerful, in fact, that the coiners eventually realized they had to erase the Kid or people might go back and read about him.

Essentially, he was an orphan of abandonment, as so many children were in those days, recently shaved bald due to lice - no doubt by a public health official, not his tenement bound abandoners. That image made the chiefs of industry, the masters of the universe, quite uncomfortable.

He's coming back. Look at the wave of institutionalized child abandonment (what was it Nebraska?) this last winter. Now, he lives in any tent city outside our major urban centers. He haunts us with the truth, that all children are our children.

Apr. 10 2009 07:53 AM

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