Joseph Pulitzer

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Pulitzer, Joseph

(po͝o`lĭtsər, pyo͞o`–), 1847–1911, American newspaper publisher and politician, b. Hungary. He emigrated to the United States in 1864, served a year in the Union army in the Civil War, and became a journalist on the Westliche Post, a German-language newspaper. In 1869 he was elected to the Missouri legislature, where he earned a reputation as a liberal reformer. As owner and publisher after 1878, he made the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a successful paper.

In 1883 he bought the New York World from Jay Gould. Pulitzer's aggressive methods of building up this paper, its Sunday issue, and the Evening World (started 1887) included the use of illustrations, news stunts, crusades against corruption, and cartoons, as well as aggressive news coverage. William Randolph HearstHearst, William Randolph,
1863–1951, American journalist and publisher, b. San Francisco. A flamboyant, highly controversial figure, Hearst was nonetheless an intelligent and extremely competent newspaperman.
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 established his New York Journal in 1895 to vie with Pulitzer's papers in sensationalism and in circulation. The ensuing contest, with its banner headlines, lavish pictures, emotional exploitation of news—in short, "yellow journalism"—reached notorious heights in the treatment of the Spanish-American WarSpanish-American War,
1898, brief conflict between Spain and the United States arising out of Spanish policies in Cuba. It was, to a large degree, brought about by the efforts of U.S. expansionists.
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. Later the World became more restrained and the outstanding Democratic organ in the United States, although it sometimes opposed party policies.

In 1885, Pulitzer was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served briefly. After 1890 partial blindness kept Pulitzer from the editorial offices, but he directed his papers no less closely than before. He left funds to found what is now the graduate school of journalism at Columbia Univ. and endowed the Pulitzer PrizesPulitzer Prizes,
annual awards for achievements in American journalism, letters, and music. The prizes are paid from the income of a fund left by Joseph Pulitzer to the trustees of Columbia Univ.
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In 1931, Pulitzer's sons, Ralph (1879–1939) and Joseph (1885–1955), sold the New York papers to the Scripps-Howard chain, and the Evening World was merged with the New York Telegram. The Post-Dispatch, under his son Joseph and then under his grandson Joseph Pulitzer (1913–93), was cited repeatedly for outstanding journalism and public service. Its editorial page maintained the Pulitzer tradition of independent liberalism.


See biographies by W. J. Granberg (1966), G. Juergens (1966), W. A. Swanberg (1967, repr. 1972), and J. M. Morris (2010).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Pulitzer, Joseph

(1847–1911) publisher; born in Mako, Hungary. Arriving in the U.S.A. in 1864 to fight in the Union army, he then won such prominence as a reporter for a German-language daily paper in St. Louis, Mo., that he was nominated and elected to the state legislature at age 22. After studying law and joining the bar, he turned again to journalism, acquiring the St. Louis Dispatch and merging it with the Post; the crusading paper won a solid reputation and wide readership. In 1883 he purchased the New York World; in it he combined intelligent, crusading editorials with coverage that grew increasingly sensational as Pulitzer, plagued by nervous and physical disorders, including encroaching blindness, sought to compete with William Randolph Hearst's Journal. In his last years, Pulitzer began molding the World into a respected paper, and he provided in his will for establishing the Columbia School of Journalism and the Pulitzer Prizes.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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