This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Zeba Zoariah Ahsan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Are We In Danger Of Heading Into An Era Of Yellow Journalism?

More from Zeba Zoariah Ahsan

Journalism is one of the most respectable professions the world over. To be able to report and present topics and organise debates around a wide range of subjects is not everybody’s cup of tea. We all have grown up in an era of television boom and ever since the 90s in our strides towards consumerism; news has become a quintessential part of growing up. Even the writing skill classes during our school days were shaped accordingly owing to the growth of quality journalism so that children could that foundation right from school level.

Representational image.

There is a code of integrity that the media follows. Unfortunately, that has receded drastically. I learnt the term yellow journalism’ as a 15-year-old while participating in a quiz competition and it got etched in my memory forever. Little did I know that yellow journalism, or in the more recent context, ‘fake news’ would become such a disease for the whole society. It is no less than a kind of cancer that makes sure to destroy the brain’s comprehension capabilities.

So, I conducted a little research and found out that there is extremely limited content on how yellow journalism has been doing the rounds across countries, and in India specifically. Although, there is a lot of content on fake news and we all have been a victim of this at some point in our lives. Such is the power of yellow journalism- to grab people’s attention with a lot of exaggeration and blowing things out of proportion! In other words, it just acts as the yellow–coloured helmet or the yellow school buses which catch our attention.

Media is the fourth pillar of democracy- a mouthpiece for spreading the truth. Taken from the Mundaka Upanishad, ‘Satyameva Jayate’, which means truth alone triumphs finds its place in the national emblem of the great country that India is. But, this fourth pillar of democracy is finding it extremely difficult to realise its moment of truth.

Today, I strongly feel that it is sold out and is primarily responsible for causing violence and creating an environment of anarchy. Those who want to show us the truth face heavy crackdowns via different means, ranging from getting assassinated or beaten up, jailed under sedition, raided or arrested under controversial laws which could be a potential threat to national security.

History Of Yellow Journalism

As they say, give people what they want to hear and that is what yellow journalism does. The term was coined in the 1890s in New York City, when two renowned journalists, namely William Randolph Hearst of the New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World, were in the middle of a bitter rivalry and cut-throat competition when it came to the circulation of newspapers. This is a wide term which included sensationalism, gossips, and scandals along with a great amount of misinformation or fake news.

Representational image.

Back then, there was very little correction to no correction done, as a result of which, the huge working class remained largely ill-informed. In fact, it was such a huge menace that it was successful in fuelling up people’s emotions to set in a pro-war attitude and is also thought to have sowed the seeds for the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. During this time the sales of the newspapers boomed because people were hungry to consume the day to day happenings. It is also sometimes referred to as the first ‘media war’.

After the war got over, many got fed up with fake news and sensationalism and thus, ushered in an era of righteousness where newspapers strived to promote balanced news by the late 1890s. This was also the time when the New York Times started becoming successful and got a huge readership.

Sidney Pomerantz, a history instructor in the City College, New York, commented, “The public is becoming heartily sick of fake news and fake extras. Some of the newspapers in this town have printed so many lying dispatches that people are beginning to mistrust any statement they make.” Thus, was the start of the beginning of ‘normalcy’ where people began to differentiate between right from wrong and started understanding that it was impossible to do away with sensationalism and grabbing headlines!

It is a huge relief that today we have fact-checking news websites who are doing a great job by stopping the peddling of lies to a great extent. There is always a conflict between ethics and the craze to get that ‘breaking news’ on our TV screens.

Representational image.

In an era of sensationalism when most of the rationality, sensibility and sanity has gone down the drain, battling with trash journalism of many websites, journals and news channels must be taken seriously and should be a responsibility to correct ourselves and others who fall prey to such pieces of information. Somehow we all have stopped listening to the other side of the stories to get a balanced view.

You must be to comment.

More from Zeba Zoariah Ahsan

Similar Posts

By Pratiksha

By Kanan Gupta

By Akash Gupta

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below