Nellie Bly: An Amazing Journalist

Nellie Bly, an American journalist that inspired and changed lives.


Nellie Bly, an American journalist that inspired and changed lives.

Hayley B., Kaavya K., and Edhen A.

She dared to go to extreme measures in order to communicate the truth. She risked her life to stand for her beliefs. Nellie Bly went that extra mile to create authentic articles, not simply silly made-up stories as others before her had done. 

Before Nellie Bly had written some of her most famous articles, she worked for what some called women journalism. ‘Women journalism’ was restricted in its scope for females. She loathed it because she strived to do more. This caused her to push boundaries in creating some of her most spontaneous articles and participate in some of her wildest activities.

Bly was a persistent woman who rejected the limitations for the women of her era. One of her most famous investigative articles, “Ten Days in a Mad-House,” described living as a mentally ill woman in an asylum. It wasn’t just for mentally ill women, but also for those who didn’t act ladylike or spoke their minds, and for immigrants who didn’t speak English. Imagine being incarcerated in asylum for simply being smart. Moreover, husbands would place their wives in an asylum just so they didn’t deal with them any longer. 

To prove her theories and thoughts, Bly pretended to have mental health issues in order to be taken to the asylum. Once there, she described how things were run and the effect on the lives of the women who lived there. Her vivid descriptions of the living situations of the residents of the asylum amazed people. Could it get any worse? Despite all of what Bly did to capture the story, she had finally made an impact.

After shocking the world with her writing, readers wanted to see what would come next. Bly’s next adventure was to circumnavigate the world, without an escort, to prove her ability to sail alone and beat the fictional Phileas Fogg’s 80-day odyssey. In this era, women weren’t allowed to travel without an escort. But this didn’t stop Nellie! She went her way around the world in just 72 days. No fictional stories here. 

At one point, Bly learned about a journalist who was imprisoned in Mexico for criticizing the Mexican government. So she traveled to Mexico to be a foreign correspondent. A foreign correspondent reports about a different country’s news.

In response to the journalist’s incarceration, she protested, demanding the writer’s release. Mexican authorities viewed Bly’s report and threatened her with an arrest, causing her to flee the country. In her attempt to free the writer, she had spent nearly half a year there, learning Mexico’s customs and ways of life. And this encounter enabled her to produce yet another outstanding article, “Six Months in Mexico.” 

Bly went undercover many times to break stories. In one instance, she worked as a maid in order to expose different employment agencies and how they took advantage of servants. Bly found out that black-market traders bought and sold babies. She also discovered the harassment of young women by police officers. 

Aside from each of her exhilarating trips, Nellie Bly was also an ordinary person. Though her family owned a mill which brought a great deal of profit, her father died when she was only six. As a result, her family was no longer able to afford the mill. When Nellie and her brothers were in their teens, they looked for jobs. Bly’s brothers found high-paying jobs, but it was a struggle for Nellie. She was only able to receive “women’s jobs.” Soon after, Nellie Bly expressed an interest in writing an article about an immigrant’s experience in the United States. She went to the office of New York World, where her request was denied, yet she ventured off on her own to pursue her dream.

An imagination makes for a good journalist. Bly’s creativity, ability to gather information and years of unique experience allowed her to become the legend that admirers know today. Not everything is a fantasy when it comes to great storytelling.