Article of the Journalist: Nellie Bly
Publisher and Purpose
My name is Barrett O'Barr. I'm a middle school student, and live in VA. This is my third year living here.
The purpose of this page is for an English project. I must present the information I have learned about Nellie Bly, an influential figure, through well-written paragraphs and a few photos.
On May 5, 1864, Judge Micheal Cochran(e) and Mary Jane Cochran gave birth to the third of their five children, Elizabeth Jane Cochran (Nellie Bly was a pen name). The Cochrans lived in Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania, named after their father. At least for her first few years, life was pretty normal for Elizabeth. Her father supported her family, whom she did not quarrel with; although, she was known to be the most rebellious of the children. She earned the nickname "Pink," due to Mary Jane frequently dressing her in that color.
However, things soon changed. When she was just six, Judge Cochran suddenly died. It was so fast, he had not had the opportunity to right a last will, leaving the family with nothing. They were having a few financial issues, but things weren't too bad; until her mother remarried. This man was abusive, and eventually, Mary Jane was forced to divorce him, despite the heavy strain it put on the finances of the family. By this point, they had practically nothing.
Elizabeth grew up to be quite intelligent. She gained admittance to Indiana Normal school in hopes of becoming a teacher, but could only afford one semester of teaching. She then helped her mother run a boarding house, their only real way of supporting the family.
Cause and Effect
In January of 1855, Elizabeth came across an article in the newspaper. Erasmus Wilson, or Quiet Observer, as his readers knew him, wrote, "What Girls are Good For," which stated that any working woman was a disgrace; that they needed to stay at home, and working made them a monster. His harsh words caused feelings of anger to boil up in Cochran, and she wrote a scathing response article, signed by "Little Orphan Girl."
An editor of The Pittsburgh Dispatch, George Madden, got his hands on the article; he was deeply impressed by the writing, and sent out an ad in the paper, asking for the writer to come visit. Soon, 18-year old Elizabeth was marching into the building, and asking for a job. Madden admitted that he had been impressed by her writing; but he needed to be sure. He had her write another article. She titled this, "The Girl Puzzle." Madden was yet again impressed by the informative style of her writing, and thus, Elizabeth Cochran became Nellie Bly, investigative journalist and reporter. She took her role as a chance to share what she knew about the unfairness women faced in the real world. Her articles led to her becoming somewhat of a women's rights activist.
Bly was a very accomplished journalist; but some of these achievements were greater than others. In 1855, she visited Mexico, writing a travelogue of sorts; however, her harmless writing soon turned into criticism of the government. After another reporter was executed for his writing, Bly was forced to end her six month visit, in order to assure her own life.
Soon after returning to America, Bly found that she needed to change things up. In 1887, she left the Dispatch and Pennsylvania for New York City. She assumed she would obtain a job quickly; after all, she was Nellie Bly. But no offers came. She struggled to get into the New York World alone. Here, one of her first assignments was to feign insanity and gain entrance to the nearby asylum, on Blackwell's Island. She was soon reporting on the terrible conditions of the hospital; how the nurses beat the patients, many of whom were perfectly sane; how the food was practically inedible, frequently rotten or under-cooked; how the doctors brushed aside their complaints as, "You're crazy, you're imagining it." After ten days, she was taken out of the asylum, and wrote the article, which would soon be turned into the book "Ten Days in a Mad-house."
After this bout of popularity, she decided to do something even more daring. In 1890, Bly set off to beat the record of Phileas Fogg, the protagonist of Juleas Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days." She wrote articles as she went, drawing almost all viewers to the World. She ended up finishing her journey in seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes, and four seconds.
In 1895, she married the industrialist Robert Seaman, eventually quitting journalism. After his death in 1904, she took over the company, until corruption and poor-management caused her to go bankrupt. She then turned back to journalism, with old and new fans.
In 1914. she went to Europe to visit a friend. However, World War 1 broke out, and her vacation turned into an opportunity. She became the first woman to report at the front lines during the war.
On January 22nd, 1922, Bly passed away. The Evening Journal carried a tribute article the next day, declaring her the best reporter in the world.
Thank you for reading! Please leave feedback in the comment stream, or take the short poll I made.
"Nellie Bly." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014. <http://school.eb.com/levels/middle/article/273196>.
"Elizabeth Jane Cochrane Seaman." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"About This Website:." Nellie Bly Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.