Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Make A Crime Wave

"Every now and then there occurs the phenomenon called a crime wave. And they sweep over the public and nearly drown the lawyers, judges, preachers, and other leading citizens who feel that they must explain and cure these extraordinary outbreaks of lawlessness." (Steffens 285) First, in this article you have to consider the various newspapers and circulation wars taking places in newspapers in 1895. The reason for the crime wave occuring at this time was not an increase in crime just the increased reporting of crimes that have already taken place. Another fact is that "The public's perception of the crime rate, based in part on the amount of media coverage has important political implications." An example in the article is when Teddy Roosevelt removes Superintendant of the detectives in New York, Byrnes because he dealt with professional criminals. (Steffens 288) It was not until Chief Detective Parker told Roosevelt to talk to Riis and Steffens two reporters who started the crime wave. Parker explained that, there was no increase in crime at all; actually there was a decrease at the time and if it wasn't for the increased reports of crime in the newspapers there would not have been a crime wave occuring.
This article is interesting because it shows the power of the press and newspapers during this time in New York City's history. A time when the power of the press and the articles that it communicated to its readers influenced political, criminal, and other activities taking place in the city.


At 9:56 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good discussion.

Is a "crime wave" an artificial creation of the press? How does the creation of a crime wave benefit a newspaper's circulation? Are there other interests involved? What is the connection between the reporting of crime and urban politics? Does this connection exist today?


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