Nellie Bly Makes the News

color & b/w. 23 min. Penny Lane, dist. by Video Project, www.videoproject.com. 2018. DVD $79; acad. libs. $149; DVD + digital licenses $249. Public performance; closed-captioned. BIOG/COMM
Journalist Nellie Bly (1864–1922) broke new ground, both as a reporter and as a woman. Born Elizabeth Cochran, she took her now well-known pen name when she started writing for the Pittsburgh Dispatch. This animated film by Lane traces Bly's career as she moves from Pittsburgh to New York City, where she wrote for the New York World. The film allows Bly to speak for herself, through the animated character who is being interviewed about her life. Bly tells the stories behind her stay in the Blackwell's Island asylum and the report she wrote on her time there and describes how she traveled solo around the world in 72 days, besting the fictitious Phileas Fogg (from Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days) and setting a world record.
VERDICT This animated documentary examines the delicate line that all journalists walk as they try to combine investigative reporting with storytelling. As Lane shows here, sometimes the story is as much about the teller as it is about anything else. Recommended. [The Lifetime movie Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story premieres in January.—Ed.]

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