American journalist and publisher, who created along with William Randolph Hearst a new and controversial type of journalism. Pulitzer saw himself as a crusader on the side of people and a spokesman for democracy. He supported labor, attacked trusts and monopolies, and revealed political corruption. When journalism was not a respectable way of earning one's living,Pulitzer was committed to raising the standards of the profession. Pulitzer was the founder of the Pulitzer Prizes. Today the most prestigious prize in American journalism is named after him.
"There is room in this great and growing city for a journal that is not only cheap but bright, not only bright but large, not only large but truly democratic... that will expose all fraud and sham; fight allpublic evils and abuses; that will serve and battle for the people with earnest sincerity." (Joseph Pulitzer in assuming proprietorship of The New York World)
Joseph Pulitzer's native town was Makó, about 200 km southeast of Budapest. He was the eldest son of Hungarian Jews. His father, Philip, was a prosperous grain merchant, who died when Joseph was eleven. A few years later hismother married Max Blau, a businessman. Pulitzer was educated in private schools in Budapest. His younger brother, Albert, was trained for the priesthood but never attained it.
In 1864 he emigrated from Hungary to the United States, landing at Castle Garden practically penniless. The Austrian army had rejected him for his weak eyesight, and the French Foreign Legion did not accept him, but in thenew country he his way to New York, where he was paid $200 to enroll in the Lincoln Cavalry on September 30; he was 17 then. He was a part of Sheridan's troopers, in the First New York Lincoln Cavalry in Company L. where he served for eight months. Although he spoke three languages: German, Hungarian, and French, he knew only a little English and until after the war because his regiment wasmostly composed of Germans.
After the war, Pulitzer had no job and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where there was a large German population. Pulitzer worked as a waiter, taxi driver, and a caretaker of mules before getting a job as a reporter on a newspaper called the Westliche Post. This great career opportunity came in a unique manner in the library's chess room. Observing the game oftwo habitues, he astutely critiqued a move and the players, impressed, engaged Pulitzer in conversation. The players were editors of the German newspaper, and a job offer followed.
A short time after joining the Post, Pulitzer was nominated (his name was put forward for consideration) for the state legislature by the Republican Party. His campaign was considered a long shot because he wasnominated in a Democratic district. Pulitzer, however, ran seriously and won. In the legislature he fought graft (illegal gain) and corruption (improper conduct by elected officials). In one wild dispute he shot a man in the leg for saying that he had written an untrue story in the newspaper. Pulitzer escaped punishment with a fine that his friends paid. In 1877 hemarried Kate Davis, a niece of Jefferson Davis.
Pulitzer was hard-working and ambitious. He bought the St. Louis Post for about $300,000 in 1872. He also bought a German paper and sold it at a $ 20,000 profit. These profits helped pay for his political activities and for law school. In 1876 Pulitzer was allowed to practice law in Missouri. He started a law practice, but he gave it up in 1878 afterpurchasing the troubled St. Louis Dispatch at a sheriff's sale for $ 27,000 and combining it with the Post. Aided by his brilliant editor in chief, John A. Cockerill, Pulitzer launched crusades against lotteries, gambling, and tax dodging; led drives to have streets cleaned and repaired; and sought to make St. Louis more civic-minded. The Post-Dispatch became a success.
In 1883 Pulitzer, then...