Sensational: The Hidden History of America's “Girl Stunt Reporters”

Sensational: The Hidden History of America's “Girl Stunt Reporters”

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A vivid social history that brings to light the “girl stunt reporters” of the Gilded Age who went undercover to expose corruption and abuse in America, and redefined what it meant to be a woman and a journalist — pioneers whose influence continues to be felt today.

In the waning years of the nineteenth century, women journalists across the United States risked reputation and their own safety to expose the hazardous conditions under which many Americans lived and worked. In various disguises, they stole into sewing factories to report on child labor, fainted in the streets to test public hospital treatment, posed as lobbyists to reveal corrupt politicians. Inventive writers whose in-depth narratives made headlines for weeks at a stretch, these "girl stunt reporters" changed laws, helped launch a labor movement, championed women’s rights, and redefined journalism for the modern age.

The 1880s and 1890s witnessed a revolution in journalism as publisher titans like Hearst and Pulitzer used weapons of innovation and scandal to battle it out for market share. As they sought new ways to draw readers in, they found their answer in young women flooding into cities to seek their fortunes. When Nellie Bly went undercover into Blackwell’s Insane Asylum for Women and emerged with a scathing indictment of what she found there, the resulting sensation created opportunity for a whole new wave of writers. In a time of few jobs and few rights for women, here was a path to lives of excitement and meaning.

After only a decade of headlines and fame, though, these trailblazers faced a vicious public backlash. Accused of practicing "yellow journalism," their popularity waned until "stunt reporter" became a badge of shame. But their influence on the field of journalism would arc across a century, from the Progressive Era "muckraking" of the 1900s to the personal "New Journalism" of the 1960s and ’70s, to the "immersion journalism" and "creative nonfiction" of today. Bold and unconventional, these writers changed how people would tell stories forever. 

Title:Sensational: The Hidden History of America's “Girl Stunt Reporters”
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780062843616
Format Type:

    Sensational: The Hidden History of America's “Girl Stunt Reporters” Reviews

  • Jaksen

    Won this book through Goodreads giveaway program - thanks so much!Fascinating read not only into the 'girl stunt reporters' of the 1880's up into the early 1900's, but of the turbulent history of that...

  • TL

    Very fascinating. ...

  • Kelly

    An absorbing history of the "girl stunt reporters" -- aka, investigative reporters -- of the late 19th century. What begins with Nellie Bly opens up a whole history of other (white) women who were hir...

  • Monica

    I won this from a Goodreads GiveawayLet me tell you the good points first. This is set mainly from the 1880's to 1910. So it is historical, which I like. I learned that these stunt reporters actually ...

  • Dianne

    I don't know exactly how to review this book. I was excited by learning that this would be a book about female reporters of the Gilded Age, like Nelly Bly. (I loved her exposé on mental institutions ...

  • Michael Sparrow

    Absolutely fine. Todd recounts the story of the pioneering women journalists of the last years of the nineteenth century.I knew a little bit about Nellie Bly and Ida B. Wells, but I learned so much mo...

  • Barb

    A look back to the origins of investigative reporting. During the Gilded Age, a number of women eager to ply their writing skills, were hired by newspapers to go “undercover” or often to fake an i...

  • Emily

    This book was so interesting.I’ve checked out more books about the women reporters that are discussed in this book. I suggest reading the paper copy instead of listening to the audiobook, which is w...

  • Cj

    In Sensational, Kim Todd explores the role of female journalists, beginning with “girl stunt reporters” in the late 1800’s through investigate journalists working today. Todd focuses on the deta...

  • Donna Wetzel

    Thanks Goodreads for my copy of Sensational:The Hidden History of America's "Girl Stunt Reporters" by Kim Todd. This book reads more like a history book than a non fiction paperback. This book did ill...