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Nellie Bly, the Dare Devil Investigative Reporter

U.S.Postage Stump on Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly,one of the finest Investigative Reporter of all time.Bly, the young Investigative Reporter of Dispatch and later Joseph Pulitzer’s The New york World specialized in undercover reporting.Bly’s journalism style was marked by her first hand tales of the lives of ordinary people whether in mental asylum or in factory which employed child labour.

Elizabeth Jane Cochran born on May 5, 1864,home of Mary Jane and Judge Michael Cochran in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania, but shortly after her sixth birthday her father died.They faced severe financial crisis.When Elizabeth,was 18 years old she wrote an anonymous letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch in response to a editorial .
George Madden, managing editor of the Dispatch was so impressed by the letter that he placed an ad in the Sunday edition of the paper asking that she introduce herself. The following day, Elizabeth met Madden and soon joined as a reporter of the Pittsburgh Dispatch.
Elizabeth’s  first article was not impressive,but Madden recognised  her potentiality. When Madden decided to make her a permanent member of his staff, he suggested a pen name for her, as it was quite improper for a woman to write for a newspaper at that time.
After several brain storming session with his staff,he found a suitable pen name for her Nellie Bly after a song “Nelly Bly” written 35 years earlier by Stephen Collins Foster, one of Pittsburgh’s native.
From day one,Nellie focused her attention on women’s rights issues. She was the inventor of investigative reporting and an expert at under-cover work. She posed as a poor sweatshop worker to expose the inhuman conditions under which women worked. When shop owners threatened to pull their advertising from the the paper, Nellie was put on an unimportant beat(fashion). She responded to her new assignment by taking a six-month working vacation in Mexico. She continued to write articles for the paper which focused on poverty and political corruption in Mexico. Eventually,the respective government expelled from the country.
Returning to the United States, she concentrated on New York City where she wanted to work for one of the city’s top newspapers.
Four months after arriving in New York, Nellie found herself still jobless and penniless. Nellie did’nt want to go back to Pittsburgh, she went to meet Colonel John Cockerill, managing editor of the New York World and presented her ideas.
In September 1887, Nellie admitted to a mental Asylum on Blackwell’s Island as an undercover reporter. Nellie continued her undercover reporting for the New York World until 1888,When Newyork World’s top brass decided to send a man around the world in less than 80 days. Nellie, took it as a challenge to do it in less time for any another newspaper if they did not agree to send her instead.
On November 14, 1889, Nellie Blys started her world-wide journey on the Hamburg-American Company liner Augusta Victoria from the Hoboken Pier. Bly’s travel experiences were published daily in the paper and appreciated by readers.After,Seventy-two days, Nellie arrived home. But dismayed and by the lack of appreciation from her employers,
Nellie submitted her resignation. In 1893, Nellie made her comeback at the New york World. Her reporting focused mostly on women oritiented issues and fighting corruption in high places.
On April 5, 1895, Nellie married a man named Robert Livingston Seaman 40 years her senior and retired from journalism. Seaman was a millionaire industrialist.
After Seaman’s death, Nellie focused all her energy to run her late husbands company, The Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.
In 1914, Nellie went to England to escape her financial problems because of the bankruptcy of her company for a few weeks. While in war-torn Europe(World war1), she reported the war from behind the scenes.She returned home after 1919, and again restarted her journalism career, for the New York Evening Journal.
On January 27, 1922 , Nellie Bly died at the age of 57 of pneumonia.

For her excellent undercover work,visit:


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