Yellow Journalism

 The term originated during the American Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century with the circulation battles between Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. The battle peaked from 1895 to about 1898, and historical usage often refers 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.

In other words…anything to sell a newspaper.

Why am I writing about this? I can’t stand how it still goes on today, but even more viciously. The world knows that Philip Seymour Hoffman has died, at 46, of an overdose.

How could it not with the press it’s getting.

He leaves behind three children and a legacy of work that no one, even the New York Post who picked up the yellow gauntlet, can deny. However, concentrating only on his addiction costing him his life, makes me sick to my stomach.

The last thing he should be remembered as is a lowlife, something he was not. On the contrary, he was kind and generous, a good friend to many…did not have a snooty, mean bone in his body…he was humble, unlike many of his peers and despite how it may look, loved his kids.

His suffering should not diminish traits such as these.

He was a tormented soul for sure, like many of us. He found refuge in a dark place, like many of us, but sadly did not emerge back into the light, like many of us.

There, but for the grace of God, go I…put that on the front page why don’t you?

My neighborhood is packed with news people…trucks with live feed, cameramen parked in front of Campbell Funeral Parlor where the wake is being held. Imagine sharks with cameras swinging from their necks I’d so like to snap, looking for that sensational picture or statement from that one person who wants to be the self-designated asshole.

The dust of Hearst and Pulitzer must be gyrating in their graves.

It happens every time someone famous dies. I remember Jackie Kennedy’s funeral taking over the avenue as if it were a National Holiday. Venders even sold buttons with her picture and dates looming on the front. One of my more surreal recollections was coming out of my building finding John Kennedy Junior talking to a friend on the steps with a vendor ten feet away selling Jackie mementos.

Where’s the respect, the solemnity? It’s tragic, but do we have to know the sordid details of Mr. Hoffman’s final hours…do his kids? The eldest is ten, but even one so young can feel quite deeply reading painful paragraphs devoted to the last few days of his dad’s life.

My heart breaks to the point where I won’t walk past the funeral parlor…I don’t want to see the sensation a death, such as this, can cause though sadly trite in our sick society.

I hope wherever he is, he’s finally at peace, the only upside in his senseless, much too soon, exit from the planet.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s struggles are finally over.

Rest in peace Philip.

We’ll pray for your kids.


Philip Seymour Hoffman

1967 – 2014

About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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31 Responses to Yellow Journalism

  1. micklively says:

    I agree: it is sick. But it’s a symptom of a greater malaise. Can journalists and paparazzi be castigated for fulfilling public demand? The ethos of democracy says the people rule. If the people want gutter gossip, who may tell them nay? Who could you trust to censor content? We are culpable. We get the press we deserve. If enough folk refused to buy a paper that dragged a man’s memory through the mire, journalists would find something else to write p.d.q. Capitalist economics says “vote with your wallet”.


  2. jimmie chew says:

    Nice post…sad about him.


  3. He was a great actor. I was shocked to hear about his death. Celebrities get almost less dignity from the press when they die than they do when they’re alive, which is sad. After all, death is the great equalizer and which one of us would want our death to be a media circus?


  4. I couldn’t agree more! Yesterday People magazine was delivered to our office with Philip on the cover and someone made a negative remark about his death. I immediately became Johnnie Cochran and jumped to his defense. Only crickets could be heard after my moment of insanity …yikes!
    I just LOVED and admired his work so much and was very sad to hear of his passing. He went from coining the phrase “I just sharted” in Along Came Polly to making me swear he was really a priest in Doubt….he will indeed be missed by me. Thanks for this post!


  5. katecrimmins says:

    Well said. There are many people who lose their life to drug addiction. It’s difficult for me to understand that it took someone of his caliber before there was a push to arrest the suppliers. Really? If all this “ta-do” changes the outcome for one person, perhaps it was worth it. The problem is that next week someone else will be in the news and the cry for catching the drug suppliers will be over. In the meantime I hope his family finds some level of peace.


  6. MJ says:

    A very, very eloquent piece, Susannah. God rest him, and God bless you for writing of his death—and by extension, the death of so many stunningly gifted but tormented human beings—with the perspective he and they deserve.


  7. Arthur Seder says:

    HI Susannah. I agree that the press is a low, smarmy enterprise with very little honor or decency. Unfortunately no one has come up with a better alternative in a free society. But what really sets my teeth on edge is the excuse this story gives the media bloviators to express their shock – shock! – at the scourge of heroin and other illegal substances, while ignoring the elephant in the room of alcohol and nicotine, which, without having checked the statistics, I would imagine are responsible for more death and destruction than all those other ones combined, by orders of magnitude. Where’s the shock and outrage at that? The enormity of this double standard is breathtaking.


    • I know what you’re saying Arthur…heroin is a much sexier headline to be sure. I don’t know what to say really. I lost my dad to alcohol…didn’t have much of a mother due to it. How many relationships crashed and burned on its fruitless path. The media is a cruel animal. I’m grateful that it’s over and he’s at rest…and my neighborhood is back to normal. I really loath the New York Post. When I think Alexander Hamilton, my favorite statesman sired it in 1804, I can scarcely believe it.

      Thanks for contributing.


  8. Patricia says:

    It is sad that what many people will remember about this man is how he died. He was a wonderful actor but that is no longer important or meaningful. He was a father but that is mentioned only as an afterthought. The people who knew and loved him have the added sorrow caused by media nonsense.


  9. skinnyuz2b says:

    It is a sad state of affairs, Susannah. But you know, what’s even sadder is that they are giving the people what they want. We just have to remind ourselves that not ALL of us want to hear that crap.


  10. those poor children… the ten year old will remember it all, this I know. wonderful post, Suzannah, had my laptop die again, so am trying to catch up on your posts. I knew you would be in the middle of all of this bedlam via the press. He is a talent that will be missed greatly.


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