No. 474
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 06, 2020

Concerning Sensational Methods.

There is a class of publications whose lives depend upon their successful appeal to vicious instinct
June 1, 2015
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Chapter 2
“I was here at the last execution, as free as any one of you, and little thought of this my unhappy fate. God grant you all more grace than I have had.” -Last words of burglar John Ives, hanged with six other felons at Tyburn on June 6, 1764.
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ExecutedToday.com - 6/6/2020


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The most interesting manhole covers are the ones that tell us who made it and when it was put in place: the name of an ironworks company, the initials of a city department, a date. This cover, on Central Park West south of 86th Street, doesn’t offer much in the way of clues. The two […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/31/2020
"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn This week's Link Dump is ready to take flight! Photo: Nancy Hendrickson, via State Historical Society of North Dakota An eerily prescient science-fiction story from a century ago. How Nathaniel Bentley became Dirty Dick.  And just keep your X-rated punchlines to yourself. "Be careful for what you wish for," Byzantine style. Until just
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Strange Company - 6/5/2020

Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from …

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Lizzie Borden : Warps & Wefts - 12/29/2019
Emil Lowenstein was a barber in Brooklyn, NY who had persuaded his neighbor, John Weston, a one-armed Civil War veteran, to withdraw his life savings and travel upstate with him. The body of John Weston was found in a ravine in Watervliet, NY, soon after Lowenstein returned to Brooklyn, flush with cash. Lowenstein denied being in Watervliet with Weston and professed innocence to the end.
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Murder by Gaslight - 6/6/2020
"The soap fakir" Saint Paul Daily Globe June 3, 1892 (Click image to enlarge) oapy" Smith, the soap fakir, is in the city" Just short of two months after leaving Creede, Colorado, Soapy Smith ended up in Saint Paul Minnesota. The Saint Paul Daily Globe of Saint Paul, Minnesota announces that bunco artist Soapy Smith is in the city. "Soapy" Smith, the soap fakir, is in the city,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 6/4/2020
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
The Minister Was Coltish. | Chloroformed While She Slept.

Concerning Sensational Methods.

worse and worse

[more]There is a class of publications whose lives depend upon their successful appeal to vicious instincts. According to the later significance given to the phrase of M. Dumas, these publications are the demi-monde of newspaperdom. Journalistic prostitution furnishes real prostitution with a large part of its sustenance. There are several phases of it. The least harmful is the frankly vicious phase represented the papers of the Police Gazette brand. The most insidious phase is represented by those papers that cloak their sensationalism with moral pretensions. Such a paper largely concerns itself with police and divorce-court records. Its best head-line reads in effect: “Testimony Unfit for Publication; It Was as Follows:” It may attain distinction by selling a few of its columns to thieves and libertines for assignation purposes, or by the light-hearted realism which animates its description of the underwear of a prominent actress. “Sensational” is the mildest epithet applied to such a paper, because it occasionally dallies with politics, or heads a subscription to purchase piano-lamps for starving infants. Its sprit is so insecure and debased that, in comparison, the editorial sprit of the New York Sun is positively one of lofty morality.


Reprinted from Puck, March 22, 1893.