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May 2, 1896


JAMA. 1896;XXVI(18):882-883. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430700034007

It is well known that the newspapers have a sensible effect, not in causing crime, but in producing those emotions, in recording the movement that leads to crime. It is a curious subject;1 but considering the rising flood of sensational sheets, it may not be amiss to discuss it in a general way. In some minds the story of a crime excites a powerful tumult.2 As regards the newspapers, the effect of the story is more pronounced than if it were played, or read, let us say from Victor Hugo, because the newspapers, with a felicity of which they have the secret, present exactly those details of a crime that most strongly influence the feelings. As far as the papers are concerned the rationale of crime is this: The emotion excited in B's mind by reading of A's crime, impels B to commit a crime similar to A's.