The Truth Telling Ways Of Nellie Bly
When it comes to journalism, there several different ways to acquire and tell a story. Whether fact of fiction, most stories are either true, or false. For Nellie Bly, a story had to be proven even if the journalist had to go undercover to do so.
One thing that sets Ms. Bly apart from current journalists is that the woman believed in only reporting honest news. When a news story came down the pipe, it had to be true for an article, book or paper to be written. In one case, the writer went undercover as a mental patient to prove patient abuse and neglect. In doing so, Nellie became one of the first investigative reporters in history.
One of the first journalists in history to fake insanity in order to study the inner-workings of an asylum, the journalist truly was one of a kind. While continuing to build on this legacy, Ms. Bly became a well known pioneer in the industry by creating this new inner aspect of fact finding and truth telling. Often proving fact from fiction, and vice versa, the journalist insisted on honesty when reporting the news.
It was during this stay that Ms. Bly could confirm the patient abuse and neglect going on at the asylum. Often worse than expected, Nellie almost thought one could go crazy from simply visiting the location. It seemed while some of the more dangerous patients were often hog-tied, others were made to sit on hard wooden benches for hours while waiting on food, medication or dirty drinking water.
The first hand accounts of what the journalist had been told by others was definitely coming to fruition. The horrible food which consisted only of gruel broth and dried dough along with a bit of chewy cold beef was awful. Whereas, the drinking water clearly held bits of dirt and other debris making it totally undrinkable at times.
Whether patients were being made to sit for hours on hard surfaces, being tied up with rope or forced to participate in activities, it seemed the staff was always abusive. Doctors were prescribing pills that would simply make some patients sleep twenty four hours a day, or create a vegetable like state in others. Many patients believed doctors were doing so to help staff avoid everyday duties and responsibilities.
The grand jury, along with reports from Ms. Bly’s visit helped investigators create laws which resulted in changes at the asylum and other institutions. Depending on the circumstance, some individuals involved in the abuse were disciplined while others were let go. It remains unclear as if there were any civil or criminal charges filed at the time of the abuse.
While in the end, it is still unknown as to how the journalist fooled the physicians and staff, precautions have now been taken with regards to the asylum doing so again in the future. Whether this action was based on an interest in patient care, or keeping journalists out in the future remains unclear. Whatever the case, Ms. Bly, the asylum and the grand jury investigation all became quite the sensation at the time.
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