Journalists and Police Detectives in Victorian and Edwardian England: An Uneasy Reciprocal Relationship

By Shpayer-Makov, Haia | Journal of Social History, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Journalists and Police Detectives in Victorian and Edwardian England: An Uneasy Reciprocal Relationship


Shpayer-Makov, Haia, Journal of Social History


Detectives are sometimes likened to historians and vice versa. (1) On closer examination, the resemblance between detectives and journalists is no less noticeable. The latter likeness, specifically between police detectives and journalists who wrote for newspapers on crime and policing, was particularly striking during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Interestingly, the two occupations were not only similar, but also evolved in parallel. More importantly, in the process they developed links and interdependencies that helped them perform their respective duties. However, while contacts between them were mutually beneficial, they were also marked by tension and conflict. This duality of interdependence and conflict continued to characterise relations between journalists and detectives (and the police generally) after the First World War, but this topic has been investigated. (2) The present paper proposes to reveal the complex relations that unfolded between them during their formative period in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such research has not yet been undertaken, although these relations were distinctive of the period and, furthermore, vital to the development of both occupations. An analysis of the special relationship between them thus sheds light on hitherto unexplored but significant aspects of the worlds of policing as well as of journalism. Moreover, their relationship played a major role in determining the material about law enforcement that reached the public through the press. The circumstances under which this material was moulded constitute another important topic of this article.

The article concerns the relationships between journalists and detectives in all of England, but with strong emphasis on London where the links were far more intensive and consequential. London was the media centre of the country. Either because Scotland Yard was located in London or because the Yard constituted a kind of a national detective organisation, providing services to localities other than the metropolis, and dealing mainly with serious crime, it became a focus of interest for media people and an object of widespread coverage, considerably more than any other detective department in the country. While some local crime and law enforcement managed to draw the attention of the national channels of communication, the flow of news items and articles about crime and detection from London outwards was substantial. (3) London detectives thus enjoyed media exposure throughout the country. In fact, to many people, Scotland Yard detectives represented the English detective. Thus, to understand the basic characteristics of the links between police detectives and pressmen, focus should be laid on London with occas3ional references to the provinces. It should also be noted that since police detectives were part and parcel of the police organisation as a whole, and affected by developments there, mention will be made of these facets when relevant.

To a great extent, the activity of Victorian and Edwardian detectives and journalists was similar and, increasingly, they were expected to do similar things. The essence of their work relied on investigation--on the act of probing and exposing. Indeed, journalists often called themselves "investigators". (4) In their professional capacity, both developed the skills of taking evidence, interviewing witnesses and, on the basis of scattered pieces of information, constructing a narrative, often explaining a burning or puzzling issue. Their professional status depended on their ability to perform these tasks repeatedly and successfully. The limited use during that period of scientific means in investigations meant that stress was put on individual merit. Accordingly, both detectives and journalists were expected to possess a distinctive mix of qualities to fulfill their jobs adequately--determination, persistence, an inquisitive and analytical mind, and sharp observation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Journalists and Police Detectives in Victorian and Edwardian England: An Uneasy Reciprocal Relationship
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.