The Yellow Kid on the Paper Stage
Introduction Origins of the Kid Class Warfare on the Urban Stage Race and Ethnicity Selling the Kid The Death of the Kid
Yellow-Kid Journalism
Click on images above for a larger view, description, and source information.

Viva Cuba Libre: Yellow Journalism and the Death of the Kid

Many explanations of why the Yellow Kid stopped appearing as a regular character in 1898 have floated around academic circles, with no clear conclusion, but the Kid's fate appears connected to the reputation of yellow journalism,1 which took much of the blame for the war with Spain during that same year. As early as 1896 readers could spot the "free Cuba" or "Viva Cuba Libre" that occasionally appeared in Outcault's drawings.2 As yellow journal historian W. Joseph Campbell documents, many blamed yellow journalism, and specifically the New York Journal, for drumming up support for a war with Spain, but the paper was more a reflection of Americans' anger at Spain's treatment of Cuba.2 The Journal did run on it's front page "How Do You Like the Journal's War?" for three days in May 1998, but Campbell points out this was done to mock claims they had started the war, not boast of its accomplishments.3 Campbell documents that the war was not profitable for yellow journals: it drove away advertisers, newsprint costs skyrocketed, and it was expensive to pay for war coverage. The Journal claimed over $750,000 in losses due to the war4—or over $15 million in 2002.5


Back  Next

1 There's no doubt papers picked up on Wardman's naming of "yellow-kid journalism." The Washington Post carried an item describing an incorrect report, with the headline "A Bit of Yellow Kid Journalism," July 1, 1897: 2.

2 "Hogan's Alley Folk Sailing Boats in Central Park." New York World. 28 June 1896.

3 Campbell 106.

4 Campbell 122.

5 Campbell 116-117.

6 Inflation calculator at <http://www.westegg.com/inflation/>.