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Thirst for crime

Posted by: | November 11, 2014 | No Comment |




The murder of Helen Jewett in 1836 gave way to a template for crime reporting which endures to the present day. And the gruesome crime would have been forgotten if it wasn’t for the evolution of American newspapers.


At the time, most newspapers thrived on information that consisted of stories about commerce and politics. One such newspaper was known as the New York Herald, edited by James Gordon Bennett. Bennett thought that these newspapers were dull and boring and wanted to increase circulation and readability and so to make it exciting and appealing to the public, Bennett set out to deliver news just moments after it happened.


Bennett sensed that the populace was hungry for the details of tragedies as opposed to police reports, which was the traditional way to provide criminal activity.


Then when the murder of Helen Jewett came to Bennett’s attention hours after it happened, he used it as one of his stories. The public was so shocked because they have never before seen such detail of a crime in a newspaper.


Circulation grew dramatically that his machines broke down several times after the first week of the murder. And eventually the New York Herald would become the most widely read newspaper in the country and it was because of stories like the murder of Helen Jewett.

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