COMMENTARY: A Sex scandal, the Titanic and a two-time Nobel Prize winner

Jan 11, 2022 at 09:45 am by WGNS

Sex scandal, the Titanic and a two-time Nobel Prize winner, with more here is MTSU Professor of Journalism Larry Burriss…


Commentary Verbatim: “I think it’s time to talk about a sex scandal, crowd sourcing money to purchase radium, a two-time Nobel Prize winner and a United States president. And just for fun let’s involve the British luxury liner, Titanic. All connected by a female reporter.

Here goes.

The reporter was Marie Mattingly Meloney, born in nearby Bardstown, Kentucky.

She was 15-years old when she got a job with the “Washington Post” and the next year she was working for the “New York World,” covering the Republican National Convention. She would later become one of the first women to be accredited to the Senate press gallery.

Which bring us to Marie Curie, famous for her discovery of radium, and destined to win two Nobel Prizes.

Meloney had secured an interview with the reclusive Curie in Paris, and learned the scientist was so impoverished she didn’t have enough money to purchase any more radium with which to continue her experiments.

It also turned out she had given away much of her small supply of radium to help cancer victims.

After she returned to the United States, Meloney began a nation-wide campaign and raised the $100,00 price for a mere gram of radium; that would be nearly $2-million today.

A gram, by the way, is one-four hundredth of an ounce, the weight of one paperclip.

Meloney then convinced Curie to come to the United States to receive the radium, but, of course, there was a complication due to an alleged affair Curie had with a French physicist not her husband. So the reporter got a promise from editors across the country to suppress that part of the story.

Curie came to the United States in Spring 1921, and was met by a throng of reporters., including more than 20 photographers.

After a whirlwind tour of the country Meloney and Curie went to Washington, D.C. where President Warren Harding presented the precious gram of radium in a lead-lined mahogany box.

Oh, and the connection to the ill-fated Titanic? The liner Curie and her two daughters crossed the Atlantic on was Olympic, sister ship to Titanic.

I guess you can never be sure what’s connected to what, or who is connected to whom. - I’m Larry Burriss”


About Dr. Burriss

Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.


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