The New York World

“Nellie Bly Goes Undercover” These excerpts are from a series of articles that the flamboyant journalist Nellie Bly published in the New York World in 1887. To build readership for The World, Bly’s editor convinced the twenty-year-old journalist (whose real name was Elizabeth Cochran) to permit herself to be committed for one week to Blackwell’s Island, a notorious insane asylum in New York City. From this vantage point Bly reported–undercover–on the conditions endured by the asylum’s patients. In an age in which relatively few middle-class women worked outside the home at all, let alone in the rough-and-tumble world of journalism, Bly stood out. Although Bly was not the first reporter to assume a false identity, her reporting did much to popularize undercover reporting as a journalistic technique. Go here to view article



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