Many women are known for things that shocked the womenÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs world in history. One woman specifically has left a lasting impression on the media world, and to people everywhere. She was Elizabeth Cochrane, or as many know her, Nellie Bly.
ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ Elizabeth was born in Cochran Mills, Pennsylvania on May 5, 1867 to Mary Jane and Judge Michael Cochran. Her father died six years later, leaving her mother with fifteen children to raise. Judge Cochran, an upstanding member of the community, died without a will, which left the family without claim to their property and sending the family from wealth to near-poverty. Nevertheless, all of the children were sent to school and the family soon moved to a modest home in Pittsburgh. Elizabeth took on the responsibility of helping to raise her siblings. ElizabethÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs mother remarried, in an attempt to better the lives of her children. However, her husband was very abusive to the family so a divorce was soon carried out.
Elizabeth wanted to help her family financially, and so at the vulnerable age of eighteen, she decided to go out and look for work. She soon discovered that only very low-paid occupations were available to women. This discouraged her greatly, although with her great imagination, it would not be long before she was making her mark on the world.
ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ In 1885, she read an article in the town newspaper, the Pittsburgh Dispatch entitled ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂWhat girls are good for.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ The article (which was written by a male) labeled women as only being good for housework and taking care of children. Elizabeth was furious at this, she could not believe how sexist the article was. She took it upon herself to write a letter of protest to the editor of the newspaper. George Madden, the managing editor of the ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂDispatchÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ, was so impressed by ElizabethÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs unique writing skills in her letter (which she signed ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂLonely Orphan GirlÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ) that he took out an ad in the Sunday Dispatch, pleading that Elizabeth come to introduce herself to him. Elizabeth saw the ad, and the very next day found herself at the office of the Pittsburgh Dispatch. On the interview, Mr. Madden asked her what type of articles she would write if she were to be a journalist. She replied that she felt newspapers should tell stories about the lives of ordinary people. Madden decided to hire her. The first piece she ever wrote for the paper was a rebuttal of the sexist piece she read! ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ When Madden decided he wanted to make Elizabeth a permanent member of his staff, he wanted to make up a pen name for her. After getting several suggestions from workers at the paper, he chose Nellie Bly; the character in the song ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂNellie BlyÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ which was written by a man named Stephen Foster.
ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ BlyÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs journalistic style was marked by her ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂstunt reporting.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ For example, she employed herself at a Pittsburgh factory so that she could investigate low wages and unsafe working conditions. She wasnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt only interested in the actually reporting of the story, as todayÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs reporters tend to do. She was interested in finding a resolution to such issues. After three years at the Dispatch, she went to New York City where she acquired a journalist position at the ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂNew York WorldÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ, which was published by Joseph Puiltzer.
ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ Over the next few years, she got more and more into investigative journalism by writing articles about poverty, housing and labor conditions in New York. She also concentrated her efforts on women's rights. Bly paved the way to great journalism as the first to go ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂbehind the scenesÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ to expose societyÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs ills.
ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ On a dare from the editor of the ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂWorldÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ, Nellie went masquerading as a madwoman, committed herself, and spent ten days in the notorious women's mental asylum, on New York CityÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂBlackwell's Island.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ Her expose was of cruel, inhumane and life-threatening conditions she and the other patients endured in the asylum. She described her stay as a ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂrat-trapÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ, stating that ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂIt is easy to get in but once you are there, it is impossible to get out.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ Bly discovered that patients were fed ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂvermin-infested foodÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ and were physically abused by the staff. She also found out that some patients were not even psychologically disturbed, but were suffering form a physical illness! Some patients were sent there by their families would felt they didnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt want to care for them. The mistreatment of patients was shown in the front pages of the New York World and her daring stunt propelled Bly into the limelight of New York journalism, and she became a very famous writer throughout New York. Her expose resulted in a much needed reform, such as increased funds to improve the conditions at the asylum, which was eventually shut down permanently. ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ Nellie was revered for her hard-hitting style, and earned the respect and admiration of her newspaper colleagues. Never before had a journalist gone to such lengths to pursue a story. In fact, other papers started copy-catting her style by hiring their own women for ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂstunt journalism.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ Although she was revered by her bosses because her stories were selling papers, they also were boasting public awareness of terrible social problems. She allowed the plight of unwed mothers and women worldwide to be heard and in doing so, became a spokeswoman for all women even today.
ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ Bly retired form journalism, after marrying millionaire Robert Seaman in 1895. Sadly, only ten years later, Seaman passed away. Following his death, Nellie focused her efforts into running her late husbandÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs company ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂThe Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ She made radical changes within the company, such as adding gymnasiums, libraries and healthcare plans. Unfortunately, her good intentions were not to last, as a few years later, the company went bankrupt.
ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ In 1914, Nellie went to Europe, just in time for World War I. While there, she went back to journalism, reporting behind the scenes about the war. She then decided to pick up her journalism career, this time for the ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂNew York Evening Journal.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ ÃÂÃ On January 27, 1922 Nellie Bly died of pneumonia. All New York newspapers acknowledged her passing with elaborate obituaries. The New York Evening Journal stated that she was the ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂBest Reporter In America.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ Nellie Bly was a reporter, a researcher, an industrialist, and a reformer. She was a model for progress and achievement for women. Women have come a long way since Nellie BlyÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs time. They have the right to vote, may own property, they may even run for public office. She gave women the confidence to stand up and fight for their rights. Her ambition, which made her a very famous woman, can be used as a model for all today.