Crime news can be found after 1575. After 1575, crime news was dominated by accounts of murder, treachery, and witchcraft. Early crime news in the United States was published in pamphlets and broadsides and frequently chronicled criminal trials of well-known criminals. The stories were frequently short and focused on the most serious crimes. By the 1830s, broadsides had been replaced by the penny press, which published short stories for a penny. These accounts depended on eyewitnesses and were harsher on society and the legal system. The New York Daily Times, for example, published a piece titled “Conviction for Arson—Exciting Developments” on October 11, 1851.
The account begins by stating that Mr. Henry T. Conklin was convicted of arson in the first degree, which was a far more serious felony at the time, and that the jury took only eight minutes to deliver a death by hanging decision. Mr. Conklin had already been given a “death sentence” for starting prior fires. The trial was portrayed as thrilling and dramatic in the newspaper story, with individuals who did not want the death punishment yet could not ignore the compelling witness testimony. In the winter of 1850, Mr. Conklin was identified as the ringleader of a gang of arsonists that terrorised the inhabitants of Utica, New York, and caused property destruction. The journalist linked the current crime to earlier crimes as well as the community and its attitudes, even though the specifics of the crime and trial were sparse. As time progressed, crime reporting in the press evolved to contain graphic details as well as police reports. It is referred to as forensic science.
In contrast to forensic science, however, forensic journalism does not use the scientific approach. Instead, it follows a predetermined news reporting pattern that relies on police accounts as gatekeepers and state agents. Forensic journalism covers the facts of the crime scene, no matter how graphic, by portraying police testimony as factual and reporting primarily on the immediate circumstances of the incident. As a result, it focuses on people and specific crimes, indifferent to the greater social context of the crime, such as violent patterns and their causes.
Mainly three traits can be used to describe forensic journalism. For starters, forensic journalism is situational. The New York Journal, for example, reported on the killing of Mr. and Mrs. Rhoner on November 28, 1898, including details of the crime scene where Mr. and Mrs. Rhoner were discovered dead in their bed on a Sunday morning. The narrative goes on to describe the Rhoners’ ages, jobs, and regular Sunday morning routine. To demonstrate the details of the crime, the newspaper presented an illustration of the bedroom, top and side profile drawings of the Rhoners demonstrating the trajectory of the bullets, as well as rough portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Rhoner. Nowhere in the story did the writer provide the social context of murder within New York nor did the writer provide who is typically found to be the culprit in this type of murder. Hence, there is no structural explanation of murder.
Secondly the process is situationally based dramaturgical representations. By this, the researchers explain that the job of journalists, as if playing a role in a drama or a theatre, is one in which police play the role of expert and official keeper of the facts while journalists play the role of the scientist. While Frank Rhoner, Jr., insisted that it was a case of murder–suicide, naming his father as the culprit, the reporter provided details given by the police as the more likely truth. The facts provided were that there were no powder marks found and that neither of the victims would have been able to shoot themselves in the top of the head as was the case at the scene. The third characteristic of forensic journalism is internal myopia or near-sightedness. By maintaining internal myopia, the media do not engage in any reflection even on their own previous reporting of crimes. In the case of the deaths of the Rhoners, the reporter did not provide any comparisons to previous murders or murder–suicides. Expert knowledge of bullet trajectories and powder marks was mentioned, but no similar situations were mentioned in which such comparisons could be made. The fatalities were reported in a silo with only a tiny little bit of doubt, tainting their offspring.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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