Monday, March 8, 2010

James Creelman Reported on Tillie Smith

James Creelman -
"Yellow Journalist"
At the Hackettstown Historical Society, there is a very fragile copy of The World from May 4, 1886. The lead article is: "Is the Janitor Guilty? Just What the Law Alleges In the Murder of the Little Servant." The name of the reporter who wrote the article is not given, but under a subsection reminiscent of the "Fair and Balanced" journalism we have today. It reads:

IV. The Results of Careful Work.

Two newspaper men from New York determined that Tillie's slayer should not escape. They over the ground and thought out the case without having any theory in advance. It seemed to them clear that the girl was murdered indoors.

The article goes on to explain why the reporter(s) thought that the murder must have been committed indoors.

 But indoors where?
  The murderer would hardly have carried the corpse towards a building where there was a vigilant watchman and more than three hundred students. It seemed the first to the newspapermen - the professional detectives had not thought of this - more likely that the body was carried away from the institute towards the open fields. The place at which the body was found was the only spot where he knew he could get over the fence most easily. Once off the institute grounds the body, in this theory was laid down. The evidences pointed strongly towards the big brick building.
What evidences? The only thing this paragraph shows is that the reporters have made up their mind about what happened.
The article continues:

   Who alone in that building knew that the girl would be out after the closing hours? According to his own testimony Janitor Titus alone knew?
   Who had sufficient light, time, security from intrusion and discovery to have done the foul deed
  Janitor Titus.
  Against his simple statement that the girl did not intend to come back that night was the fact that she did come back.
Titus was incorrect, so he must be guilty?

 Against his statement that she expressed fear of the matron was the fact that she matron was a mild, kind woman, who gently chided late hours and was never stern.

Really? A matron at a rural Methodist girls' college in Victorian Times never stern? That is just plain unlikely. But, leaving aside whether or not the matron of the college was, in fact, stern or not. That is not what needs to be disproved. What the reporter needs to disprove is that Tillie, a known associate of the town gang, was afraid of the most authoritative figure at the school.

Titus had just made the tour of the the corridors and was the only one in the building who knew absolutely that everybody else was in bed and that all the lights were out. Tillie had asked him to let her in, and he was the only person who had a right to open at that hour the side door of the dark rear basement. The girl left Munnich at 10.10 o'clock, at the front gate, and started towards this side door. If she knocked it was the duty of Titus to open the door. She would then have stood in a dark passageway, opening on a corridor.
She would have been face to face with Titus."
"If...would....would." Solid case, guys! I can see why you are so much better than those "professional" investigators.

Again, this article does not name the New York Reporters who have decided they know who killed Tillie Smith "without having any theory in advance". They didn't have any theory in advance of the time they are describing, namely, the exact point at which they started having a theory. That point was in advance of the time they wrote their article. After the point they describe themselves as having no theory in advance of conducting their investigation, they had a theory and they advanced it all over "The World", perhaps the biggest newspapers in the entire world. That is a well-known technique of Yellow Journalists. The theory they advanced wasn't really that James Titus was guilty. It was that they are not going to sell any newspapers if the Tillie Smith case doesn't get "advanced" by the likes of us.

The name of the reporter who wrote the article about the theory advanced by the mystery reporters, is not given in the article about them and their theory. Are they one and the same? I think so, but it will take time to find out. In fact, it may never be found out. The article "Is the Janitor guilty?" is much longer than the few segments I have posted here. I can tell by reading it that it must have had a profound effect on the public.

I have reason to suspect the reporters of the article and the reporters who are the subject of the article are the same. According to my theory, at least one of them was James Creelman, the famous Yellow Journalist in the picture above who was known for his vivid, personal and highly subjective writing.

Go check out the Tillie Smith file at the Hackettstown Historical Society. Check out the "Dear Lou" column from the 1940's. I hope it has as profound an effect on you as it did on me.

The burden of proof was on the Prosecution and the reporters who want the public to believe in their theory. They talk about "evidences" and "facts" but they don't show us evidence or facts. All I have to do to free James Titus is to show that their theories do not stand up to the test of reasonable doubt.

Be not afraid (at least of me). I am not freeing a killer. I am freeing an innocent man. The real killer should have been caught 123 years ago. Why that was not done is a source of shame in this community even today.

I have decided not to publish the Dear Lou column until I learn more about it. I encourage you all to come to the Museum. It is open most weekdays and on Sunday afternoons. In the meantime, learn more about James Creelman.

Per Wikipedia:
In 1872, Creelman moved to New York, where his interest in literature and law attracted the patronage of Thomas De Witt Talmage and Republican party boss Roscoe Conking. His first job was in the print shop of the Episcopalian newspaper Church and State. He later moved to the print shop of the Brooklyn Eagle. By 1876 he joined the New York Herald as a reporter.

Creelman traveled extensively to find stories and was unafraid to take on great personal risk in their pursuit. He joined adventurer and showman Paul Boyton on his treks across the Yellowstone River and Mississippi River, dodged bullets reporting on the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys and interviewed Sitting Bull. He also interviewed Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, wherein Diaz stated he would not run for reelection in 1910 to allow new leadership for Mexico, a promise he did not keep and that in part led to the Mexican Revolution.
After stints at several other newspapers, including the Paris Herald, the Evening Telegram, and magazines Illustrated American and Cosmopolitan, Creelman landed at Joseph Pulitzer's New York World in 1894, where he accompanied the Japanese Army and wrote about the tensions between Japan and China.

But Creelman's most significant assignment came in 1896, on a trip to Cuba to report on tensions brewing between the island nation and Spain. By 1897, William Randolph Hearst had recruited Creelman to his newspaper, the New York Journal, and assigned Creelman to cover the war between Cuba and Spain, which broke out in 1898.

More anon.

Warm Regards,

Erik B. Anderson
Independence Township, New Jersey
Established 1782

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