Writers 2 Remember: Nellie Bly

First Ever Undercover Journalist

Nellie Bly… that is a pen name because women were not supposed to exist outside the home in her era. Having been born Elizabeth Jane Cochran, she lived from May 5, 1864 until January 27, 1922, and became one of the first undercover journalists. She was more than just a pioneer, Nellie literally created investigative journalism[2] and is still emulated today.

Nellie Bly wrote about the unfair treatment of women and social wrongs. She based her work on experiences from investigations she did performing undercover work when she lacked first hand knowledge. This was done during a time when people had never been exposed to such a thing so they had no suspicions of her being a journalist.

One honor given in her name is the Nellie Bly Cub Reporter journalism award. It is awarded annually by The New York Press Club to acknowledge an individual’s best journalistic whose professional experience is three years or less.

Fun fact: The comic character Lois Lane is based on Nellie.

Clearly, her passion and determination to get to the truth mattered. Not only did they bring awareness to the public, they showed the capabilities of a woman before the suffrage movement and reinvented how journalism was approached. Nellie literally shaped how reporting is done and for that, she is a writer to be remembered.

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