Who was Nellie Bly, the journalist celebrated in Tuesday’s Google Doodle?

She faked insanity to expose abuses at a mental asylum, and travelled around the globe in less than 80 days

The Library of Congress

Tuesday’s Google doodle honored pioneering feminist journalist Nellie Bly, who was born “Elizabeth Jane Cochran” on May 5th, 151 years ago. Cochran got her start in 1885 after an angry letter she wrote to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, protesting a column that called working women a “monstrosity,” caught the attention of the editor. He offered her a job as a full-time reporter, and she adopted the pen name “Nellie Bly.”

Highlights of her career included going undercover as a mentally ill woman to gain access to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on New York’s Roosevelt Island; the resulting expose, “Ten Days in a Mad House,” which detailed the brutal conditions the women endured, prompted a legal investigation and an increase in funding for the asylum. Bly is also remembered for her solo journey around the world, inspired by Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in 80 Days. (Bly completed her record-setting trip in just 72 days.)

Women no longer have to write under pen names, but they remain underrepresented in newsrooms around the world. In the U.S., women run only three of the country’s 25 biggest newspapers and magazines; men fill 73 percent of top management jobs at media companies around the world. But there have always been brave women paving their own way in the news industry. Here are four other women journalists to know.



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