Fatal House Collapse

The Egyptian Gazette, November 1, 1905

The Egyptian Gazette covers a bevy of topics from foreign trade to local deaths, however one odd thing I have noticed within it is the rather blasé coverage of the deaths of common people. Take for instance the incident they reported on in the November 1st issue in 1905, shown above.

The story of a house collapsing and killing seven people would have been a rather large headline in a local paper today, such as when a thrift store collapsed in Philadelphia. But the Egyptian Gazette barely gives any information on it, acting as if it just another everyday occurrence. The coverage is rather sparse by our modern standards, where just about everything that can be sensationalized is, but the most interesting part is when it is compared to other articles within the paper. The paper dedicates an entire section of the paper to simply announce that an aristocratic madam has left Paris, complete with headline, but puts this story in with a group of other local stories and express little interest.

This type of reporting just took me off guard at first, especially when is noticed it was not a one-off occurrence. There is a story of a young boy drowning in the Nile, reports of deaths from the Plague and murders all treated with the same aloof attitude. This could possibly be attributed to the simple fact that death was more common 111 years ago. It didn’t effect people in the same way as it does today. Take for instance the death of a six-year old child in Sydney Australia. He has a large separate news story into his death and even has an impending investigation into it. It is possible that the house collapse also has an investigation going on as well, but the newspaper does not mention anything of the sort.

The stark contrast in reporting between the Egyptian Gazette and our modern day newspapers just struck me as an interesting story to blog about, and so I did. Hopefully the reason I presented for this difference can be confirmed or denied later on, but only further research will tell.

Will Hanley
Will Hanley
Associate Professor of History

I study the legal history of the Middle East and teach at Florida State University.