From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Yellow journalism is a pejorative reference to journalism that features scandal-mongering, sensationalism, jingoism or other unethical or unprofessional practices by news media organizations or individual journalists. It has been loosely defined as "not quite libel".
The term originated during the circulation battles between Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal from 1895 to about 1898, and can refer specifically to this period. Both papers were accused by critics of sensationalizing the news in order to drive up circulation, although the newspapers did serious reporting as well. The New York Press coined the term "Yellow Journalism" in early 1897 to describe the papers of Pulitzer and Hearst. The newspaper did not define the term, and in 1898 simply elaborated, "We called them Yellow because they are Yellow."