Sunday, 24 February 2013

one hundred heroines! #2 nellie bly

Some of you may know that I study journalism at university. Today in my one hundred heroines series I am going to talk about a woman who changed the industry forever. 

As with the majority of professions, journalism has always been male dominated and aside from working as secretaries and in supporting roles, 'real journalism' was a career deemed suitable for educated men and thought of as too dangerous for women. As a result female journalists didn't really appear until the late 1800's. One of the most notable of these was the American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane who wrote under the pen name Nellie Bly. Bly obtained her first job as a reporter in 1882 through unconventional means; motivated by a particularly misogynistic column at her local paper the 'Pittsburgh Dispatch” she wrote a letter of complaint to the editor. The editor was impressed and wrote back offering Bly a job, though she had to write under a pseudonym “as it was quite improper for a woman to write for a newspaper and make her identity known to the public”.
Nellie Bly suffered from the stereotypes of conventional roles for women within a newspaper and was often consigned to writing 'fluff' or women's pieces on fashion and society. Bly was not content with this; she wanted to write hard-hitting journalistic pieces

For her first, and possibly most, controversial story she went undercover and got herself admitted to a lunatic asylum to expose the horrendous conditions there and ultimately improve them.
"It is only after one is in trouble that one realizes how little sympathy and kindness there are in the world. "
This was the non-intentional inception of the 'stunt movement' in the late 1800s where, in order to get into the challenging and sexist profession of journalism, women would risk their reputation and their lives doing dangerous things in order to try and obtain a news story and hopefully subsequently a job. Nellie Bly was a pioneer for women in the world of journalism, she helped to allow them to break into the press industry and made the idea of a female reporter less radical.

Another stunt Bly pulled helped her to become a pioneer in the field of travel as well. In 1889, armed with just some toiletries and several changes of underwear, Bly decided to turn the fictional novel 'around the world in 80 days' in to a reality for the first time and travelled the 24,899 miles in a record-breaking seventy-two days! She is a truly adventurous, charitable and inspiring woman!



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2 comments

  1. Amazing Post. Hope you will also visit me soon :)
    xx

    Maria Speaks Prada

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  2. Great Blog!

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    Vivianista.com

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