Press Coverage on the Whitechapel Population

Press Coverage on the Whitechapel Population

The 1880s were a difficult time for the Whitechapel population as news of Jack the Ripper spread like wildfire. New press stories came out every day, focusing on the Whitechapel murders from every angle. One major angle was on the general population of Whitechapel. At this period in time, Whitechapel was one of the poorest parts of London and sensationalist press never failed to mention this fact. As the wave of “new journalism” washed over London, it was expected that reporters express opinions on the situations at hand. These opinions came frequently with harsh judgements of the population of Whitechapel and the underlying issues that bred the kind of people that became murderers.

Whitechapel during the 1880s was a place primarily of working class laborers and dire poverty. According to Charles Booth’s map (!) about twenty-five to thirty percent of people living in Whitechapel were living in severe poverty. These people lived in overcrowded slums or on the streets. There were many attempted solutions to these issues such as building new housing for the poor and other thigs of hat nature but none seemed to grasp the core issues of the society. The new housing that was created for the poor was still too expensive for the people who needed it most. Lodging houses were also places the poorest of the poor would frequent, including the victims of Jack the Ripper. It was believed by outside populations and most of the press that these lodging houses were breeding bad people and were essentially helping to create criminals like Jack the Ripper.

As the murders took place, outsider opinions of the population of Whitechapel came to light. The press opinion of the Whitechapel population was not very high, as many upper class citizens believed it was the poor person’s fault that they were poor. Many believed that the area of Whitechapel brought these murders upon themselves by living in the conditions they did.

On the other side of press, many newspapers wrote in defense of the Whitechapel population. Many of the issues that needed fixing were brought to light to the wealthier populations. The murder press was used to show that Whitechapel needed help from wealthy benefactors, so the dire poverty could end. There were also many laws in place that went against the poor even more and attention was brought to this so it could be worked on and changed.

The Whitechapel murders provided many opportunities for newspapers to report sensationalist news as well as take on some important social issues. The newspaper industry was growing rapidly worldwide as literacy rates went up, and this made it much easier to report on the murders and express opinions as the events occurred. At this period in time, Whitechapel was one of the poorest parts of London

Through the rise of “new journalism” (!) the press began to play a different role in society. There was a much greater emphasis on editorials, and more investigative aspects. This means that rather than reporting plain facts, the reporters were now searching for the most interesting stories and creating their own opinions when writing about them.

It was common for liberal and conservative newspapers to have different views regarding the population of Whitechapel. Right wing was more likely to comment negatively about Whitechapel while left wing was more likely to comment on the failure of the police