Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schneider, Robert W.||Hayter, Earl W. (Earl Wiley), 1901-1994

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Roosevelt; Theodore; 1858-1919; Sensationalism in journalism; Journalistic ethics; United States--Foreign relations


In the 1890's the United States embarked on a policy of imperialism. This was accompanied by the growth of the "Yellow Press"—-newspapers which emphasized the sensational. After the Spanish-American War the number of newspapers which had followed yellow journalistic policies began to decline; this was the case in Chicago. During the Spanish-American War, all the Chicago newspapers except one adopted sensationalism. After the War two Chicago newspapers continued to promote imperialism and racism through the methods of yellow journalism—-the Chicago Tribune and the Inter-Ocean. Both papers supported creation of colonies or protectorates in the islands and countries of Latin-America. They were critical of any policy which threatened to reduce United States effectiveness in this area or which did not strengthen the Monroe Doctrine. During President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, the United States was active in Latin-America and the Far East. These operations gave the papers the material necessary to continue their demands for expanded United States influence in world affairs and for the preservation of the Anglo-Saxon race in the United States. In the western hemisphere the two newspapers supported an active United States policy in Panama, Venezuela, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Cuba, and Alaska. Though both papers supported United States activities in these areas, they did not always agree on what the United States goals were and how they were to be accomplished. In securing rights to the isthmus of Panama, treaties and revolutions were not as important as the location of the canal. The Inter-Ocean favored a Nicaraguan route while the Tribune supported a canal through the isthmus of Panama. In the Venezuelan crisis the papers differed as to its significance. The Tribune believed actions of the European nations during the crisis strengthened the Monroe Doctrine, while the Inter-Ocean considered their actions to be merely acceptance of the Doctrine. It criticized Secretary of State John Hay and the way the United States had handled the crisis. In the Alaskan boundary dispute the Inter-Ocean reported there was no need for arbitration as there was no question to be settled. The Tribune, on the other hand, considered Hay’s negotiation a success and believed there was a problem that had to be solved. United States intervention in Cuba and Santo Domingo illustrated how both newspapers could support a strong Latin- American program but differ as to its methods. In Santo Domingo the Inter-Ocean favored intervention and suggested annexation, while the Tribune supported a policy of leadership and protection. Both papers approved United States intervention in Cuba, and both disagreed with Roosevelt’s decision that the United States should withdraw from the island when stability had returned. Through all the Latin-American affairs the papers displayed growing emphasis on racial superiority of the Anglo-Saxon, and in the Cuban crisis the Tribune criticized the Cubans. The feeling of race superiority was most evident in matters concerning the Far East—principally Japan. In the Russo-Japanese War, United States foreign policy was viewed differently by the two newspapers. The Tribune praised Hay’s policy while the Inter-Ocean was very critical. The Inter-Ocean considered Russia to be the victor, while the Tribune reported that Japan had gained the world’s sympathy through her concessions. The War was accompanied by the growth of anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. It was reflected in the papers, whose writings more closely approached the yellow journalism of the pre-Spanish-American War period. Fear of the Asian grew with the Tokyo demonstrations which followed the Russo-Japanese War, the San Francisco school crisis, and California’s attempt to restrict Japanese rights. Fear of the Oriental was not dispelled by the Gentlemen’s Agreement, the voyage of the fleet around the world, or the Root-Takahira Agreement. Of the two papers the Inter-Ocean was more outspoken against the Japanese. It was strong in its criticism of the Tokyo riots. It also supported California’s attempts to segregate schools and rejected any suggestion of compromise on the issue. The Gentlemen’s Agreement did not diminish the Inter-Ocean’s attack on the Japanese. It warned of a Japanese threat to the Philippines and described their island activities designed to undermine United States authority. It warned that the two races would not mix and declared that the people of the United States did not want them around. The Tribune did not treat the Japanese as harshly at the time of the riots. The newspaper wrote that the Californians could keep the Japanese out of the schools if they wished, but it warned against injuring those people. The Tribune was more acceptable to the idea of compromise. It attempted to explain Japan’s rise to power and issued only a warning for the future— that sometime a battle would take place between the Asian and European civilizations. During the fleet’s voyage around the world, both papers resorted to printing stories relating Japanese plots. Of the two papers, the Inter-Ocean was the most active in reporting threats to the fleet. Both papers supported the voyage and believed it strengthened the unity of Latin-america, the Monroe Doctrine, and United States prestige in the Far East. During this period, the question of imperialism assumed a position of lesser importance in the two publications. It was still present as the papers continued to support intervention and possible annexation of Cuba, Santo Domingo, and Haiti, but it had been replaced as the major issue by the matter of Anglo-Saxon superiority. It was not difficult for the papers to take the ideas of John Hay, Albert Beveridge, Henry Cabot Lodge, and other leading Americans and use them to push the ideas of imperialism and race supremacy. These ideas must not have been completely acceptable in the Mid-West. Within ten years the Inter-Ocean had disappeared through merger with the Chicago Herald, and the Tribune adopted less radical views and became the best-selling newspaper in Chicago.


Includes bibliographical references.


5, 79 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type