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Leopold And Loeb Essay

1665 words - 7 pages

The Leopold and Loeb case of 1924 is nationally recognized to be the first of its kind. It was a crime committed by two wealthy teenage boys, Richard Leopold and Nathan Loeb, who committed murder with what seemed like no motive at all. This case was a catalyst for social interpretation as journalists played a major part in the discovery of details of the crime. Often time mixing fact with fiction, this case was talked about well beyond the years after it was laid to rest. Throughout the years there has been lots of speculation as to why Leopold and Loeb did what they did and many topics have been discussed; all the way from modern childhood to homosexuality. This case delved into every aspect of the boy’s lives and revealed new truths over time. The Leopold and Loeb case was never about the crime committed but more as how the journalists portrayed the boys in social media. Over time the case was interpreted as a sensationalist journey through an untypical crime that changed into a pop culture phenomenon that affected how crime and law is interpreted.
When the story of a kidnapped boy broke out on May 23, 1924 the mass media immediately began to develop a story about the crime. Journalists were major contributors to the solving of the crime. Two journalists, James Mulroy and Alvin Goldstein, won the Pulitzer Prize for their contributions. The journalists were the bases of public knowledge for the case and therefore had lots of power in influencing the public’s opinion. However because of this, journalist often crossed the line between fact and fiction. They used total coverage of this case—something they had never done before—and created a case with social interpretation and sensationalism. Any information they could get, they twisted and exploited to keep the public interested.
The over exploitation led to a fight between journalists to get the best confessions, interviews, and pictures. Many people also wanted some of the wealth of sensationalism and created books and movies like the movie Compulsion, made in 1959. There were some people who questioned sensationalism and its morals. One journalist stated, “The problem of sensationalism resolves itself largely into a question of balance .” One major reason why sensationalism was a huge factor in this case was because there was no outright probable motive for the murder of Bobby Frank. People could not grasp that the boys committed such a heinous crime just to fulfill psychological desires. This was a splinter in the case that affected popular culture, crime, and law. Almost every other culprit in US history had a motive for their crimes, and it confused the public masses and made it difficult to understand the crime because this time there was none. Leopold and Loeb had no reason to kidnap and kill Bobby Frank. They both came from wealthy families and did not need the ransom money they were asking for. They were seen as unlikely killers and this created a problem to the public. If...

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