True crime writer Harold Schechter posed a question this week* that Sarah and I can’t get out of our heads: “Why do some crimes become media sensations and cultural touchstones, while others more horrifying fade into obscurity?” When we’re talking about crimes of the distant past, there’s one obvious answer, of course, because whoever owned the press owned the truth. But for the last couple centuries, media outlets have been in hot competition to find the next big thing, and stories that bleed most decidedly lead. Add to that the current wave of true crime, and it’s clear that there’s some hard-to-define reason why some true crime tales grab the public’s attention, while others are briefly reported on and then dropped. Why do you think that is?
*in an excerpt from his new book, Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer, available to order here.
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