Nellie Bly,one of the finest Investigative Reporter of all time .Bly, the young Investigative Reporter of the Pittsburgh 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 an editorial.George Madden,the managing editor of the Dispatch was so impressed by the letter that he placed an advertisement in the Sunday edition of the paper asking the letter writer that she would introduce herself. The following day, Elizabeth met Madden and soon joined as a reporter of the Pittsburgh Dispatch. 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 sessions 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 right 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 her 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..In September 1887, Nellie admitted to a mental Asylum on Blackwell’s Island as an undercover reporter for the New York World. Nellie continued her undercover reporting for the paper 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 by the lack of appreciation from her employers, Nellie submitted her resignation. In 1893, Nellie made her comeback at the New york World. She wrote mostly on women oritiented issues and corruption in high places.
On April 5, 1895, Nellie married a man named Robert Livingston Seaman 40 years her senior and retired from journalism.and again restarted her journalism career, for the New York Evening Journal in 1919.On January 27, 1922 , Nellie Bly died at the age of 57 of pneumonia.
I still remember that when I first read the book ‘The History of the Standard Oil Company’,I was in the ninth standard.I was fascinated by the detailed research by the author .Later, I learned that Ida was one of the America’s most respected journalists of all time.I visualized since then that I would some day be an Investigative Reporter like her.I later found that the author Ida Tarbel (1857-1944)was the most respected American journalist in the earlier part of the twentieth century.The lady became my inspiration.In this book she unearthed the illegal way by which the business tycoon John Rockefeller monopolized the then oil industry.Ida Tarbell spent much of her time searching documents,archives.She proved that documents played a major role for muckrakers.Ida proved that ‘document oritented’ Investigative Journalism is much more authentic.
Lorana Sullivan(above right) whom I consider as one of the finest investigative financial journalist of all time.Another reason why I consider her as one of my favourite Investigative Journalist is that Lorana worked as a freelance writer and researcher for The Observer(London)and other publications in Britain and the US at the later stages of her carrier.She started her carrier for her hometown paper the Elmira Star Gazette in 1961.She studied at Cornell University and Cornell Law School.She also attended School of Journalism of Columbia University.After getting a Pulitzer travelling fellowship,she worked as a reporter for The Sunday Times in London.
After returning to US, as a reporter for various newspapers like Providence Journal Bulletin in Rhode Island,Wall Street Journal,The Sunday Times,The London Observer,she unearthed major financial irregularities such as the financial dealings of Mohamed Al-Fayed after he acquired Harrods.Like Ida Tarbell,the pioneer American Investigative Journalist,Lorana exposed major high profile financial frauds.
After her premature death at the age of 61 years(1999),the Lorana Sullivan Foundation was established to improve the standards of Investigative Journalism.The Foundation who sponsors the London Investigative Journalism Summer School,provides two scholarships a year for students.
Tags: Investigative Journalism
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