The cry of labor has seized the world’s ear. The Press, the Legislature, and the world at large is listening to the voice of labor…. When this journal first resolved to secure a hearing for all working-class questions, there was scarcely a column of a leading London newspaper which was then open. Now, following our lead, every great daily paper has its labor section…. Nor is it only the press which is watchful. It is the readers of the Press….
This self-promoting editorial in the Star in 1891 made a critical point: labor issues were becoming a standard feature in daily newspapers. Sweating, loopholes in factory legislation, and the famous Dock and Match Girls’ strikes were among the subjects found in the pages of papers such as the Star. This trend in reporting was part of the “New Journalism” that developed in England between the 1880s and 1914. In an attempt to cater to the tastes of mass audiences, there was a shift in emphasis from parliamentary and political news to sports, gossip, crime, and sex. Papers, for instance, reported on the brutal Jack the Ripper murders in the East End of London. New journalists and editors, like W. T. Stead and Thomas P. O’Connor, also produced interviews, exposes, and political editorials in order to influence public opinion and promote what Stead called “government by journalism.” Stead produced what has been called the most successful piece of scandal journalism of the nineteenth century, “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon,” which depicted young girls for sale to older men. Passage of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, which raised the age of consent for sex to sixteen, was one of its political consequences.