No. 543
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
October 18, 2021

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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The "Memoirs" of Sir John Reresby (1634-1689) contain a reference to a minor witch trial which somehow morphed into one of the oddest "ghost" sightings on record: Leaving the public affairs for a while, at this untoward pass, I would venture to take notice of a private occurrence which made some noise at York. The assizes being there held on the 7th of March, 1686-7, an old woman was
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Strange Company - 10/18/2021
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Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
Sometimes a painting has so much rich detail, it just knocks you out. That was my reaction to this magnificent scene of the Third Avenue Railroad Depot between 65th and 66th Streets, painted two years after the depot opened in 1857. Amazingly, the painter of this “precise representation” of the depot, William H. Schenck, was […]
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Ephemeral New York - 10/18/2021
[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
A very anxious and excited man arrived at the jail in Ann Arbor, Michigan, around midnight, October 22, 1871. He told the jailer he was unwell and wanted to sleep in the jail that night. The jailor decided it was in everyone’s best interest to give him what he wanted. As he locked the cell door, the man burst out crying but would not say why. The following morning the jailor released him. The man
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Murder By Gaslight - 10/16/2021
First response from the Sourdough Associationto Jefferson R. Smith from Clara JohnsonJeff Smith collection(Click image to enlarge)     lease try to attend and thus forward the spirit of the Sourdough." Soapy Smith's son contacts the Sourdough Reunion, 1951      Seventy years ago, at some date previous to February 15, 1951, Soapy Smith's son, sixty-five year old Jefferson Randolph Smith III
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 9/17/2021
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.