BY LIZ SHARROW AND HANNAH HAYES
Hello everyone! This past week we’ve talked lots about Nellie Bly and the great lengths she took to get the story that revolutionized the world of journalism and inspired journalists across the world. For our article this week we decided to investigate journalists’ thoughts on Nellie Bly and how she changed the world of journalism forever.
First we looked to see what people thought of Bly’s writings during the period they were released. The New Yorker, an online news source, was very critical of Bly and stated that, “Bly was talented and undeniably a celebrity, but she also owed part of her success to fortunate timing: her moxie was in concert with both the women’s-suffrage movement and the burgeoning of populist journalism. Between 1870 and 1900, the number of newspaper copies sold each day rose almost sixfold, Jean Marie Lutes, a Villanova University professor, [wrote] in the introduction to Around the World in Seventy-two Days and Other Writings, Bly’s first collection, published in April, almost a hundred years after her death.”
Next we looked to see what influences Bly has on the journalism world today. The New Yorker says that, “For young women just starting out in journalism today, it is perilously easy to fall into the trap of writing only about so-called women’s issues. In a media environment that reliably rewards trading on one’s gender identity, the financial incentive for young female writers to approach the world with a narrow set of politicized questions—the answers to which they already know—is great. And while there is surely a place for this, no girl grows up wanting to count bylines or to scour TV shows for signs of sexism.” A good journalist like Nellie Bly would be an excellent role model for these young female journalist to look up to because Bly wrote about what she wanted instead of what people wanted to hear. She wrote good, hard reports, whereas these young journalist are being sucked into writing stories that don’t have an effect on people and can even be considered lousy at times.
Nellie Bly was someone who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, even in the Victorian era, where men had much more power than women. In her local newspaper there was an article published titled “What Girls Are Good For.” At this point in time, it wasn’t uncommon to see sexist articles published, and most women wouldn’t speak out about it. Bly, however, wrote the paper giving them her two cents on equality. An excerpt from that letter:
“A girl was engaged to fill a position that had always been occupied by men, who, for the same, received $2.00 a day. Her employer stated that he never had anyone in the same position that was as accurate, speedy and gave the same satisfaction; however, as she was “just a girl” he gave her $5.00 a week. Some call this equality.”
It shows that she had not only a problem with lesser pay, but being looked down upon in a place of work for being ,“just a girl.” This is an amazing example of how Bly took journalism by storm and paved a way for not only journalists, but also women.
We’d love to hear your feedback! Do you think she was just fortunate on her timing or do you think she changed journalism and perspectives all together? Do you think Bly is a good influence on young journalists today? Would she be someone you looked up to?