William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer had a large influence of the news that people received in the late 1800s. The news they offered often was not accurate: Hearst and Pulitzer reported on sensational stories, which were usually highly exaggerated or ficticious.
The Spanish American War, many argue, may have been started by William Randolph Hearst himself.
The United States of America was emerging as a world power. Because of this, tensions between the United States and Spain began to grow. The tensions arose with the question of Cuba’s independence.
The ship, the U.S.S. Maine, was one of the first warships built by Americans. It was sent from Key West, FL to Havana, Cuba to protect United States citizens from the Spanish in January of 1898. The ship arrived in Havana on 24 January, 1898.
A short time after its arrival into the Havana Harbor, the ship split in half and sank on 15 February, 1898. As the ship sank, 252 men were killed. Even once the ship had almost fully sunk, ammunition continued to explode for hours.
Hearst and Pulitzer wasted no time and began reporting on what had happened to the ship. There were reports that the Spanish had attached a mine to the ship which exploded and killed the men aboard. The headline in the New York Journal, only 2 days after the explosion read, “DESTRUCTION OF THE WAR SHIP MAINE WAS WORK OF AN ENEMY”.
These false accusations sparked the Spanish American War. The stories written by Hearst and Pulitzer proved powerful enough to send nations to war.