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Simpson Street Free Press

Nellie Bly Trailblazed a New Kind of Investigative Journalism

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, also known as Nellie Bly, was a journalist and record-setter who traveled around the world.

She was born in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania, on May 5, 1864. Bly grew up with her older brothers and parents, who loved her very much. Unfortunately, her father passed away when she was six. Her family needed money, which led her to work more often. Bly truly wanted to teach but had to drop out of school to provide for her family.

When Bly was 16, she started reading an article in the Pittsburgh newspaper that described women as helpless and pathetic. The article shocked and offended her. She was not afraid to show that she had her rights. Thus, Bly wrote a letter to the editor expressing her thoughts and detailing how the article was offensive to women. The editor was impressed by Bly’s confidence; in fact, he wrote back, offering her a job.

Bly had to write about how patients were treated in an asylum. She wanted to experience it herself, so she pretended to be insane to get into the asylum. When Bly encountered the asylum, it wasn’t what she expected. There was rotten food and dirty water, and the patients had to take cold baths. They were also abused by the nurses. The hospital was filled with rats, forcing patients to sit on benches for hours. No one was allowed to talk, read, or do anything.

Once Bly was released from the asylum, she started to write about her experience and how it was. Soon she became famous for her bravery and exposing the poor treatment of asylum patients to improve their condition. In the late 1800s, Bly wrote about the unfair treatment of women. Bly's bravery and commitment to journalism helped launch Immersion journalism or immersionism.

In 1888, Bly had a new idea for an article. She was going to race around the world in record time. Her dream goal was to beat the time of a fictional character Pill Fogg, from the Jules Verne story, “Around The World in 80 Days”. Bly's record trip began at 9:40 a.m. on Nov. 14, 1889. She went to many places like France, Japan, San Francisco, and Yemen. She was worried about bad weather slowing her down, since she was already two days behind schedule. What made it so hard was a huge snowstorm raging across the northern part of San Francisco. Bly’s trip became famous all over the country. As she traveled across the world, people met her and cheered her on. She finally arrived in New Jersey at 3:51 p.m. on Jan. 25, 1890. She broke the record returning in 72 days.

As years went on, Bly continued to fight for women throughout her life. She married Robert Seamen in 1895. When Robert died, Bly took over Iron Clad Manufacturing. Later on, she returned to reporting. She was the first woman to cover the Eastern Front during World War I. After all the reporting, trips, and fighting for women's rights, Nellie Bly died from pneumonia in January. 22, 1922, in New York City, however her experiences and stories continue to live on to this day.

[Source: Duckster]

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