Nellie Bly

 

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May 5, 1864 – Jan 27, 1922

Journalist

American

“Nellie Bly was the best reporter in America and that is saying a good deal. Reporting requires intelligence, precision, honesty of purpose, courage and accuracy. “ -- Arthur Brisbane

“Energy rightly applied and directed can accomplish anything.”

After six months in Mexico documenting poverty and political corruption, Mexican officials were angered and decided to expel her out of their country.

Being dressed in pink, rather than in the drab colors of brown and grey normal for that day, Elizabeth had the tone set for her life early on by her mother. When she was 17, Elizabeth read a newspaper article which described what girls were good for. She was upset reading the chauvinistic opinion of how women could not be good at any job outside of the home, and she wrote to the editor. This landed her a job as a reporter, a job exclusively for men at that time. She was given the pen name of Nellie Bly. She was good at her job. In fact, she was so good that many men were jealous and claimed it couldn’t be one girl writing her stories but a team of reporters. Nellie brought attention to social injustices. She purposely got herself arrested in order to write about how police treated women prisoners. She pretended to go crazy to get into New York City’s feared insane asylum, then she wrote of the cruel treatment of mental patients. This, in turn, prompted an investigation and improvements. She wrote from first-hand experiences, as she went into slums, factories and orphanages. Those she exposed were angry, and some of the situations were dangerous, but fear did not keep her from reporting fraud and corruption. Breaking the 80-day record, Nellie made a trip around the world in less than 73 days (an astonishing feat considering there were no airplanes). Through her stories, she brought the world to the numbers. When she stopped, a newspaper article called her “the best reporter in America.”