Investigative journalism

Nellie Bly: Top of the Lists

Nellie Bly is top of the lists.

Nellie Bly is top of the lists.

Nellie Bly is ‘back on the front page’ as a chart-topper in the historical, convention-busting, inspiring and feminist leagues.

Just in time for International Women’s Day 2015, The Guardian  and The Observer named Nellie as one of the 10 best feminists.  Here’s what the article’s author Helen Lewis said:

“No one but a man can do this,” Nellie Bly’s editor told her when she suggested travelling round the world in less than 80 days. She would need a protector, he said – and how would she ever carry all the luggage a lady would need on such a trip? Bly didn’t worry too much about the first quibble, and travelled light, crushing all her belongings into a single handbag. She made it home in 72 days. That wasn’t the first time the pioneering American journalist had attracted attention through her work – a year earlier, in 1887, she faked madness to go undercover in an asylum, exposing its poor conditions and abusive staff.” Here’s the entire list of 10 Best Feminists

Nellie Bly's biography by Brooke Kroeger

Nellie Bly’s biography by Brooke Kroeger

In 10 Books About Innovative Women You Should Know More About, Kathleen Culliton names Nellie Bly: Daredevil. Reporter.Feminist by Brooke Kroeger.  This is what she says on online site Bustle:

“Here’s what I love about stories of women who innovate: they’re two stories. First you’ve got the story of the brilliant idea, or the world-changing artifact, the traveling of the globe, the charting of the star, the rallying of the people. Then, you’ve got the story of how the hell a woman got people to listen to her in the first place. These are stories not just of human beings who were crazy-smart, but women who were as tough as nails… Journalist Nellie Bly faked insanity to get committed in an asylum. She reported on its atrocities as she experienced them. When that was done, she circled the globe.”

Brooke Kroeger wrote this book because she could not find a single reliable source that accurately captured the story of Nellie Bly. Instead of a credible biography, she found brief encyclopedia entries and children’s books. And she was baffled because Bly not only had a major impact on journalism, but a fascinating life. In an age that relegated women reporters to the ‘Homes and Gardens’ section of the newspaper, Bly faked her own insanity to gain admission into and report on one of the nation’s most notorious insane asylums and effectively invented stunt journalism.”
Here’s the full list of 10 Books about Inspirational Women You Should Know More About.

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly

Online worldwide news site Buzzfeed named Nellie Bly as one of  the Top 12 Historical Women Who Didn’t Give a ‘you know what’.

“Nellie Bly was a daring and influential investigative journalist who wrote groundbreaking stories about political corruption and poverty. She once faked madness in order to report undercover from an abusive mental institution in New York City, which led to outcry and reform. Her jealous peers referred to her investigations as “stunt reporting”, but Nellie, of course, didn’t give a  x*!x*!  about those whiny little x*!x*!     Oh, and she once travelled around the world in a record-breaking 72 days, just ‘cause.  Here’s the post.

She was named among the top 7 of inspiring ‘convention-breaking‘ women by Mother Nature Network who said:

Nellie exposed the abuses taking place inside the Women's Asylum.

Nellie exposed the abuses taking place inside the Women’s Asylum.

Nellie Bly was an investigative journalist who went undercover in a mental hospital to secure a job at a newspaper when she moved to New York City. She wrote about her experience spending 10 days in a mental ward: “What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment? I would like the expert physicians who are condemning me for my action, which has proven their ability, to take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck.”

Following that blockbuster story, Bly circled the world in 72 days in imitation of Jules Verne’s book, married a millionaire, ran his steel manufacturing company after he died, and developed a number of patents for her business. She covered the suffragist movement in an article titled “Suffragists Are Men’s Superiors” in 1913 but correctly predicted women wouldn’t get the vote until 1920.
See full post here.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette where Nellie was once a reporter invites us to ‘Learn from the Past’ via Nellie Bly.
“In 1887, she moved to New York City and landed a job at the New York World. For one of her first assignments, she went undercover as a patient at the Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum. She spent 10 days experiencing the asylum’s deplorable living conditions, which included rotten food and physical abuse from the staff. After the New York World demanded her release, Bly’s firsthand accounts of the horrors of the asylum, “Ten Days in a Mad House,” became a book that prompted a grand jury investigation.Two years later, she decided to travel the world faster than novelist Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg in “Around the World in Eighty Days.” She boarded a ship from New York Nov. 14, 1889, and returned Jan. 25, 1890 — 72 days, six hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds after her departure. Read the full article here.

 

 

It’s official!

It’s official.  The 125th Anniversary Voyage of Nellie Bly’s Race Around the World is registered with the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). You can visit the RGS Expedition Database and see it here

Remarking on Nellie Bly’s achievement in 1890, then RGS President Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff said:

“While I can’t see her trip will benefit science, it shows what a plucky young woman with a powerful newspaper at her back can do. For my part I think it best in travelling to see foreign countries slowly, but if any more enterprising Americans desire to emulate Miss Bly’s example it is much better to travel rapidly than not to travel at all.  Miss Bly has proved herself a remarkable woman and I hope she will get a good husband.”

The Nellie Bly ‘expedition’ is also endorsed by  Women in Journalism.

 

 

 

‘Thumbs up’ for Nellie Bly in the Sky from Adventure Travel Writer

Renowned travel writer, adventurer, teacher and producer of the Adventure Travel Writer blog, L. Peat O’Neil has endorsed the 125th anniversary voyage of Nellie Bly. Many thanks to Peat for her acknowledgement and inspiration!  Read it here. Check out the Adventure Travel Writer blog for ideas, news and top tips.

Music for Nellie Bly

THE NELLIE BLY PROJECT

A new work by composer Samantha Boshnack – inspired by the life of daredevil, feminist, journalist and iconoclast Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922).

Samantha_Boshnack_0

Samantha Boshnack

Sam Boshnack has taken on the next large scale project for her Quintet – a narrative work inspired by the life of 19th century investigative journalist Nellie Bly.

“Both as a young girl and today, Nellie Bly greatly inspires me,” says Sam. “A reporter at a time when women were not welcome into journalism, she was a fiery and persistent individual who worked within extreme confines to achieve great things for both the subjects she covered (including mental health and prison facilities), and for women in her field.”

Sam has created a work in four movements highlighting stages and elements of Bly’s personality and career:

 “Early Years” establishing her voice – combining elements of punky irreverence, with a yearning to deeply understand the human experience and its unfairness

“Asylum Expose” exploring her extreme efforts to write about the atrocities of a mental asylum

“72 Days” tackling her race around the globe to beat Jules Verne’s fictional record, while the world cheered her on. Listen to 72 Days here.

The piece concludes with “Lasting Legacy” – an homage to Bly and the impact she made to those who came after her.

Sam combines exploration of Bly’s life with propulsion from her words, incorporating quotes and segments from her books as spoken and sung elements within the suite. In addition to the music-based work, Boshnack hopes this concert will be an opportunity to educate the public about the life of this impactful, yet mostly unknown, iconoclast.

72 Days – is based on Nellie Bly’s book Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, in which she set out on a race around the world to beat Jules Verne’s fictional record, while the whole world watched and cheered her on. The idea for this story was hers, but she had to fight hard to make it happen because her editors did not believe it could be done.

The two telling quotes I extracted from her book are – “It’s only a matter of 28,000 miles… I shall be back again” and “I would rather go in dead and successful than alive and behind time.”

Once again we see Nellie being unaffected by the immense task before her and with an absolute conviction that she would succeed. The two methods of transport available to her were railroad and steamship – I have incorporated the rhythmic elements of these modes into the music as well.

All pieces performed by The Sam Boshnack Quintet featuring Samantha Boshnack (trumpet/voice), Beth Fleenor (clarinets/voice), Dawn Clement (piano/keyboard/voice), Isaac Castillo (bass/voice) and Max  Wood (drums)

Used by kind permission of  Samantha Boshnack