Elements Of Visual Sensationalism In The Ripper Killings

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II. The Press
When the press covered the Ripper killings they used cultural fantasies and Victorian anxieties to their advantage by challenging the police and fascinating the public. They wove a tale of sex, blood, and murder, which would forever change murder in the news. This sensationalism operated on an emotional level, appealing to the morals of the reader. David Sachsman and David Bulla summarize sensationalism in the press in their book Sensationalism: Murder, Mayhem, Mudslinging, Scandals, and Disasters in 19th-Century Reporting: “The core elements of visual sensationalism in the press were in place during the late nineteenth century, with violence and death, crime and punishment, sex and scandal—sometimes lurid, often gratuitous—becoming
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Only a small article appeared in The Eastern Post on Saturday, April 7th, four days after her death: “On Thursday the London Hospital informed the coroner of the death of Emma Elizabeth Smith, aged 45, a widow...she was set upon by some men and severely maltreated. The men made off, and have not yet been apprehended. She was subsequently conveyed to the hospital where she died.” This shows Smith’s death was not regarded as extraordinary, because in “1887, two hundred brothels in East London were closed…render[ing] thousands of women homeless, hence vulnerable to attack.” The next day, an article in Lloyd 's Weekly News added to the case. The article stated that Smith said on her way to the hospital that “she had been shockingly maltreated by a number of men and robbed of all the money she had.” There was no witness to the attack to corroborate this; however, a few people did see Smith early that morning “talking to a man in a black dress, wearing a white neckerchief.” This statement was one of the few witness accounts the press recorded for this case; the evidence pointing to a well-dressed …show more content…
WOMAN SHOCKINGLY MUTILATED. HEAD NEARLY CUT OFF.” Her wounds were described, and it was stated that “No more revolting crime has ever been committed in Whitechapel.” The deceased woman was later identified as Mary Ann Nichols. In this same article, the Echo expressed the theory being considered by the police at the time: “It is surmised by the detective authorities that several of the undiscovered crimes of a hideous character have been INFLICTED BY ONE PERSON, whom they think is a madman.” This report ties Nichols’ murder to the previous two “undiscovered crimes” and maybe more. The press now portrayed the serial murderer as an insane man who was acting alone; his status in society still undetermined. During the inquest, the doctor who examined Nichols’ body, Henry Llewellyn, gave his statement regarding the deceased’s wounds and answered some telling questions. Lloyd 's Weekly Newspaper reported his conclusion that the murder would have taken no more than five minutes. Llewellyn thought the murderer did have some knowledge of anatomy, and he said the type of knife used was

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