The ‘founder of yellow journalism’, William Randolph Hearst built a huge media empire with his limitless ambition and sensational style, thus becoming a billionaire and ruling much of the U.S media.
Heart was born on 29th April 1863 in Sans Francisco to parents George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst who were millionaires themselves. In 1885 he enrolled in Harvard College but was expelled soon afterwards for his mischievous antics. Hearst searched for a job for almost two years and upon failing joined his father’s newspaper the ‘San Francisco Examiner’. Hearst gave the newspaper a new motto of ‘Monarch of the Dailies’ and to make it even more successful hired the most famed writers of that time such as Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce and Jack London. In 1895 Hearst managed to purchase a failing newspaper named ‘New York Morning Journal’ hiring well known writers and prominent names such as James J. Montague and Stephen Crane. The paper reached unprecedented levels of success with a reduced price, catchy headlines and sensational pseudoscience and crime stories.
William Randolph Hearst wanted more thus he purchased newspapers in other cities as well including Boston, Chicago and LA. Soon he was the owner of 28 newspapers such as Boston American, the Chicago Examiner, the Detroit Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington Herald, Atlanta Georgia and Washington Times. He also expanded his purchases to magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Town and Country and New York Daily Mirror.
Hearst is responsible for bringing a revolution to American journalism with his authoritarian style and dramatic approach to news. Although he had to face a lot of criticism and controversy, Hearst was, according to many, personifying the American dream. His newspapers were different from others; with striking pictures and illustrations and various tactics to attract buyers Hearst was able to immensely increase his papers’ circulation. Hearst is also accused of spurring the Spanish-American war by publishing trumped up stories from 1895 when the war started till its end in 1898. His blatant political stands ultimately incited allegations of opportunism. His once loyal readers eventually grew tired of his reckless tactics and boundless greed and boycotted after the assassination of President McKinley. People believed that it was his articles and editorials that had provoked the killer. Hearst is also commonly mentioned in the legalization of hemp as being the power behind making it illegal. He is accused of doing this so his forests would become more valuable. Even though Hearst was condemned for his nationalistic politics he is still credited for helping the American national identity.
This media entrepreneur also tried his luck in politics. He became the member of the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat. He ran for the posts of mayor of New York City and lieutenant of New York but was not successful. Hearst became the leader of the Democratic Party in 1896 and remained at the position till 1935.
Hearst’s media empire collapsed during the Great Depression and even though the Second World War did help a little bit, Hearst was able to reach the same peak again. He died on 14th August 1951 in Beverly Hills.