Sob Sister Journalism

Sob Sister Journalism

Sob Sister Journalism

Sob Sister Journalism

Synopsis

On June 25, 1906 an event of little public importance occurred--famous architect and womanizer Stanford White was shot dead by Harry K. Thaw, the scion of an influential family. It became the "hottest story" of the century. Four women journalists provided their newspapers with daily doses of tear-producing reportage. Abramson explores the climate, murder, and subsequent trial that led to the creation of sob sister journalism. An overview of the American scene, biographical sketches, daily courtroom events, and news coverage serve to document the origins of this journalistic style. This was the first time that women were recognized as a vast newspaper readership--causing advertisers to target marketing towards women as consumers. This led to the development of women's pages in many major dailies.

Excerpt

Every now and then an event occurs that in itself is of limited interest or importance but somehow captures the imagination and fascination of the public. Whether or not it attracts vast popular attention depends mainly on two factors: whether the public mood and climate axe such that the event will be of great appeal and, more important, whether the press and other media feel that they can capitalize upon it. If the press decides that the incident is going to sell copy and especially if there is enormous initial public response, it will make sure that interest does not wane. For as long as curious readers buy the newspaper, the newspaper will continue to provide information, often irrelevant and unimportant, to satisfy this curiosity. Occasionally the press coverage and journalistic style become the focus of attention and the event merely a catalyst by which the journalistic style is propagated. Sometimes journalists rather than remaining impartial, colorless, factual transmitters of news, become celebrities themselves.

So it was that on the night of June 25, 1906, the public mood and climate were ripe and the press ready and eager for a "hot story." A steamy summer had descended upon New York City. Torpor and boredom lay heavily on people as it usually does before the "official" start of summer activities on July 4. Newspaper headlines would discuss nothing more interesting or entertaining . . .

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