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.
After 10 days, the journalist was released. These ten days would be some of the most telling in the history of the writer. For, it is from these first hand accounts of abuse and neglect that the journalist wrote 10 Days In A Madhouse, a book that brought the journalist and writer a great deal of recognition.
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.
At the same time, Nellie also considered that anyone living in these conditions could become mentally ill, if one was not already. With the poor food and water quality, it seemed amazing more patients were not sick much less dying during Ms. Bly\’s 10 day stay. At that point and time, Ms. Bly wondered how many other healthy patients might have been admitted without warrant. Still, without outing oneself, Nellie had a hard time asking doctors about other patients.
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.
It remains unknown how the journalist proved insane during an exam when completely fine. The asylum later instituted precautionary measures from admitting healthy individuals. While one would like to believe this action was taken to protect patients, the truth is that it was most likely to avoid undercover journalists and others from reporting on patient abuse and neglect in the future.
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