Yellow Journalism & the Spanish-American War Lesson Plan
In this US imperialism lesson plan, students learn about the rise of yellow journalism and how a battle for newspaper circulation helped lead to the Spanish-American War. The episode also unpacks the context surrounded the move to empire and the underlying factors that ushered in American imperialism.
Students learn how the fierce competition between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst for newspaper circulation in New York, led to the very worst of journalistic practices and how events in and outside America enticed some Americans to seek empire. From the closing of the frontier to the need for resources, and the beliefs in the White Man’s Burden, and finally, when the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, America went to war. Students also reflect on how yellow journalism excited and enraged Americans to enter a war they might otherwise have avoided and the importance of trustworthy media today. This is the first of two American Imperialism lesson plans.
What Students Do
Students analyze real headlines from news stories about the Spanish-American War that employed yellow journalism into 21st century clickbait headlines.
Skill Development: Understanding Bias in Media, Creative Writing.