Monday, 1 August 2011

The Power of Words

With all the bad news going on about the news, I thought it might be interesting to look at the chart of William Randolph Hearst, media magnate, inspiration for Citizen Kane and the creator of the so-called yellow press.

Hearst was born on 29 April 1863 at 5:58 am in San Francisco. Mercury in the 12th house rules the 2nd and is loosely conjunct Pluto. Perhaps working intuitively, Hearst was able to sniff out the nitty-gritty of a story, sensationalise it, sell it and by that process, he became a very successful and very wealthy man. Taking over his father’s newspaper business just as Pluto entered Gemini in 1886, he employed writers such as Jack London and Mark Twain, securing his newspaper’s popularity within a few years. By 1895, he was locking horns with Joseph Pulitzer.

To give an example of the power of Pluto in Gemini, we can just about safely say a few well placed words started a war with Spain in 1898—with both Hearst and his arch rival Joseph Pulitzer in agreement that Spain was responsible for the explosion on The Maine (an American Battleship harboured near Havana Cuba). The real cause of the explosion remains a mystery to this day. But that didn’t stop the USA entering into war with Spain.

Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics (Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism (1941) p. 539):
1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo-science, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips (which is now normal in the U.S.)
5. dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.

Not too much different from recent newspaper tactics! Pluto, of course, has moved on and currently nestles in Capricorn, making us far less interested in a few clever words and more interested in preserving our reputations.

With Neptune hovering between Aquarius and Pisces and Uranus in Aries, I wonder if we are seeing the beginning of the end of the newspaper business. Neptune would collect high tech info as it passed through Aquarius. In Pisces, its own sign, glamour for its own sake as well as rumour and speculation could reach epic proportions—however, Uranus in Aries will force us to streamline the information gathered through high technology. The era of high tech headlines only--without the Sunday supplement, editorial, extra columns and funnies--perhaps?

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