Back in the 1890s, two newspapers, Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, were battling it out for the readership of New Yorkers and beyond. To garner more readers, they engaged in what became known as “yellow journalism,” which denotes running sensationalistic stories — or what we know today as click-bait. It got so bad that an English magazine in 1898 noted, “All American journalism is not ‘yellow’, though all strictly ‘up-to-date’ yellow journalism is American!” On May 10, the doyen of New York, and indeed American, newspapers, stooped to such yellow journalism as to garner notice not only across the nation, but also internationally. This is not surprising, for three reasons. First, one of the most valuable plots of New York real estate remains the front page of the New York Times — and that is where the story ran. Second, the story took up a hot-button issue — Israel-Palestine. Third, the headline can justifiably be labeled “race-baiting”: “Campus Debates Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities.”
To really assess just how bad this piece of journalism is, and the cavalier way in which the New York Times engaged in yellow journalism so as to actually exacerbate conditions on U.S. campuses, it’s important to separate myth from reality.
No doubt, the increasingly brutal attacks on Gaza last summer and the consolidation of extreme right-wing political power in Israel since the elections — which includes the naming of people to high-level ministry positions who have openly declared the legitimacy of the Occupation, who wish to see it become a de jure annexation, and who have made statements favoring ethnic cleansing — have ratcheted up protests on university campuses and beyond. And these protests have been met with resistance. But to couch the debates simplistically as being between “Jews and minorities” is to hopelessly distort what is actually taking place, and all for the sake of a sexy headline.
First of all, it reduces “Jews” to a single, monolithic group; if anyone else did so it might well smack of anti-Semitism. The headline also does the same to “minorities.” But that is what yellow journalists do: amp up a situation, depict it in its most incendiary manner. The article also omits the fact that plenty of people on either side of the fence are in fact neither Jewish nor a minority.
– Read more: The New York Times claims BDS is the reason for “a wedge between Jews and minorities” on campus – David Palumbo-Liu, Salon.com.