Nellie Bly’s exposé in the New York World drew nationwide attention to the problems of mental institutions and made her an overnight sensation. Unsurprisingly, the paper’s fiercest rival, the Sun, sought to challenge Bly’s account by interviewing Blackwell’s medical staff. In the second primary source, Bly fiercely defended her work.


Use the magnifier tool to read the Sun’s article starting with the subheading, “A Puzzle Soon Solved.” Then answer the questions in the boxes below.



Newspapers like the Sun wrote their own stories based on Bly’s series in the World. Oct. 14, 1887. Library of Congress


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Directions: Analyze Nellie Bly’s response to the Sun’s critique of her investigation, utilizing the magnifier tool to help you. Then use the annotation tool to take notes on the following questions:

  1. What does Nellie Bly say about the role of facts in journalism?
  2. Describe Bly’s tone from the start of the article to its end. Give two specific examples.
  3. Why did Bly want to make it clear that she had not responded in the affirmative when the doctor asked if she heard voices?
  4. Do you think Bly should have taken the time to respond to the Sun’s article? Explain.

Download the notes to share with your class.

Source: “Untruths in Every Line.” by Nellie Bly. The New York World. Oct. 17, 1887. Permission has been granted for educational purposes only courtesy of NYU Digital Library Services.

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