How media obsession fuels public fascination with the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ yet leaves other serial killers to serve their time as almost unknowns

When serial killers go unseen: The case of Trevor Joseph Hardy

From Crime, Media, Culture

UK headlines last week highlighted news regarding the denied plea of the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ and confirmation he will spend all his life behind bars. This serial killer always sparks huge public interest. The article examines the differences in the way serial killers are represented in the British media and considers how the public fascination for killers such as the ‘Ripper’ is fueled by the media, yet other serial killers like Trevor Hardy are almost unknown. The argument is that since the 60’s the British media have  become addicted to portraying serial killers, making them a media event, shaping public responses based on what and how they report and therefore what they dictated as most newsworthy.


This article presents a case study of the serial killer Trevor Joseph Hardy — who murdered three young women in Manchester, England between 1974 and 1976, and who is now one of Britain’s longest serving prisoners. Even so, Hardy and his crimes are almost unknown. As such, the article uses the Hardy case to consider academic definitions of ‘newsworthiness’ and the assertion that the rise of the mass media has made serial killing a ‘media event’. Through a series of interviews with journalists who covered the case, the article suggests possible reasons as to why Hardy has disappeared from popular and academic consciousness.

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Article details

Wilson, D., Tolputt, H., Howe, N., & Kemp, D. (2010). When serial killers go unseen: The case of Trevor Joseph Hardy Crime, Media, Culture, 6 (2), 153-167 DOI: 10.1177/1741659010369952

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