Ripped from the headlines

Image via Morguefile

BBC News carries a story about a ‘Jack the Ripper manuscript‘, discovered in a museum two years ago and about to be published in book form.

But the ‘confession’ as described in the article sets off several alarm bells, not least that the purported author, James Carnac, seems never to have existed.

Two sections of the manuscript ‘describe the real-life killings; the third is “a very contrived, very poor fiction”.’

In other words, it sounds like no more than an interesting take on the notorious Victorian serial killer, a work of fiction written in the first person.

So far, so Blair Witch.

Unfortunately, the BBC report goes one further, reporting at length the opinion of “Ripper historian Paul Begg” speculating the ‘confession’ may be the real thing.

Begg doesn’t appear to be a historian in the conventional sense of the word, though he has produced several popular books on Jack the Ripper and other historical mysteries including the Mary Celeste.

So a guy who makes a living writing Ripper books is hyping the authenticity of a “Ripper diary”.

Nothing wrong with that, but why does the BBC find it acceptable to give him a free platform to sell his book?

Image via Morguefile

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.