Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|American Experience Around the World in 72 Days|
Actor: David Ogden Stiers
Director: Christine Lesiak; Mel Bucklin
Genres: Educational, Documentary
Studio: Wgbh Wholesale Release Date: 04/04/2006 Run time: 56 minutes
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Video of one of the most remarkable women of the 19th cent.
Charles Ashbacher | Marion, Iowa United States(email@example.com) | 12/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nellie Bly was one of the most remarkable American women of the nineteenth century. She was the first "stunt" reporter, performing acts as a reporter in order to report her experiences in the newspapers. In this way, she was able to capitalize on her being a woman at a time when there were few advantages to being female.
She was someone who was comfortable being the center of attention at a young age, wearing gaudy pink when most girls were wrapped in less prominent colors. She managed to get a job as a reporter for a Pittsburgh paper, but chafed at writing copy for the women's sections. She ultimately quit the job and moved to New York. At first, she had no success in getting a job at a newspaper, but was finally hired by Joseph Pulitzer.
However, there was a major caveat to the hire. She must first convince the health officials that she was mad and have them commit her to the notorious local insane asylum for women. After she spent several days there, she would be freed and then write an expose' about the conditions inside the facility. This assignment was not without risk, there were documented cases of inmates being beaten to death by the staff, and the conditions inside were horrific. She survived and her story was a sensation, leading to improvements in the treatment of the insane. It also led to Pulitzer giving her a full-time job.
She then went on to assume other guises, such as an unwed mother trying to sell her baby and a domestic servant. A public that quickly transformed her into a celebrity gobbled up her published reports. However, her greatest stunt was to take place in 1887, when she traveled around the world. Fifteen years earlier, Jules Verne had published "Around the World in Eighty Days" where his fictional English gentleman, Phineas Fogg, successfully traveled around the world in eighty days to win a bet. Of all the Verne stories, this one was the most realistic, although the idea that a woman was attempting it fueled the public passion for the story. In an idea worthy of the best public relations mind of all time, she stopped and had refreshments with Jules Verne while she was on her journey.
I was amazed at the determination of Nellie Bly, she clearly had a powerful personality and a great deal of charm. Both of those qualities come through in this video, as we see how she was in many ways a trailblazer for the women who followed her into traditional male occupations. She was also the first true investigative reporter, literally risking her life for the story, yet her experiences were so strong, there was no need to add any sensationalistic enhancements. Yet, her celebrity status quickly faded after that, her book did not sell well and while she did do some serious reporting on civil strife and other prominent women, nothing quite the magnitude of her earlier work. Nevertheless, I was impressed by her achievements and very much enjoyed this narration of her fascinating career.