Birthday: April 10, 1847
Died At Age: 64
Sun Sign: Aries
Born in: Makó
Famous as: Journalist & Publisher
political ideology: Democratic
siblings: Albert Pulitzer
children: Constance Pulitzer, Edith Pulitzer, Herbert Pulitzer, Joseph Pulitzer II, Lucille Pulitzer, Ralph Pulitzer
Died on: October 29, 1911
place of death: Charleston
Founder/Co-Founder: Pulitzer, Inc.
Joseph Pulitzer was one of the most prominent US journalists and publisher of his times, who initiated the pattern of modern newspaper. Born in Hungary, he wanted to enlist in the Austrian Army but was rejected because of weak eyesight. Eventually he managed to be part of the US Union Army as a substitute draftee and later settled in St. Louis after the war. Before becoming a reporter, Joseph did a lot of odd jobs. For him, newspaper was the ‘vehicle of truth’, and he used it to raise his concern against corruption, fraud, monopolies, gambling rings and ill practices by elected officials. During his stint as a reporter, Pulitzer was nominated by the Republican Party for State Legislature. His area was mainly dominated by the Democrats, but Joseph campaigned relentlessly and finally won. An ambitious person, Joseph made money through newspaper acquisitions and used the money for his law school. Joseph’s love for journalism was evident when he single-handedly increased the circulation of ‘New York World’ which was in a financial mess. Joseph believed in the power of press and the intelligentsia involved in journalistic activities to bring a positive change to the world
Childhood & Early Life
Joseph Pulitzer was born on April 10, 1847, in Mako, Hungary, in a prominent Jewish family. He was initially tutored by private teachers and learnt French and German at an early age. When his father retired and settled in Budapest, Joseph went to school there.
At the age of 17, Joseph wanted to enlist in the Austrian Army, but he was rejected because of his weak health and poor eyesight. It was in Hamburg, that he came in contact with a bounty hunter for the US Army. The recruiter enlisted Joseph as a substitute for a draftee; this process was permitted under the Civil War draft system and eventually Joseph got absorbed in Lincoln Cavalry.
After a short military career, Joseph came back to New York. But there were too many war veterans and lesser vacancies. In order to support himself, Joseph went to Missouri and took up odds jobs. He worked as a waiter, deckhand, grave digger, taxi driver and even a caretaker for mules.
Thereafter Joseph was hired to maintain the land records in Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. This experience prompted him to study law. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1867
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Joseph’s career started in 1868, a fascinating manner. Watching a game of chess in a library, Joseph made a strategic move and the players started conversing with him. The players were editors of ‘Westliche Post’, a leading German language daily, and Joseph got a job offer in the newspaper.
He joined the Republican Party in 1869 and was asked by the party to fight for a seat in State Legislature. It was difficult to win, because he fought the election from a Democratic-populated region. But Joseph’s relentless campaigns paid off and he won.
By 1872, Joseph was known as an enterprising journalist, and was offered a controlling interest in the Westliche Post, which was nearly bankrupt at the time. Thus, Joseph Pulitzer became a publisher at the age of 25.
What followed next was the acquisition of a German newspaper which he sold at a twenty thousand dollar profit. The money helped him to support his law studies and also some of his political endeavours.
In 1876, Joseph started practising law, but left it in 1878 and bought the newspaper ‘St. Louis Dispatch’. With two newspapers aiding him to voice his opinion, Joseph along with his talented editor John Cockerill, protested against gambling, tax dodges and lotteries, civic corruptions and gambling circuits.
In 1883, Joseph bought the ‘New York World’. His health was failing, but he was determined to pull out the paper from the financial mess and engaged himself in bringing the much-desired changes in editing, format and content. The circulation of the newspaper reached to 60,000.
In 1884, while staying in New York, Joseph became a Congressman. But his love for journalism overtook his love for politics and he gave up his seat two years later.
In 1890, Joseph constructed a building for the newspaper ‘New York World’. At that time, it was known as the tallest building in the city. His newspaper published stories against crime. It was his endeavour that the newspaper should be known for its style of investigative journalism.
With his constant battle with his health, Joseph withdrew as an editor of ‘New York World’. During this time, he had bitter personal battle with William Randolph Hearst who was the publisher of ‘New York Journal’.
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Eventually Joseph lost his eyesight, but continued to show his spark through the stories which mainly concentrated on human behaviour and sensational matters. He also believed in depicting stories of the common man.
He used his newspaper as an instrument to raise concern against corruption, fraud, monopolies, gambling rings and ill practices by elected officials. He also made innovation such as comics, sports coverage, women’s fashion coverage into his newspapers and introduced the entertainment quotient in the newspapers.
Pulitzer founded the Columbia School of Journalism; the school was opened in 1912, an year after his death. In his honor the university started the Pulitzer Prize in 1917 to recognize artistic and journalistic achievements.
Awards & Achievements
In 1989, Pulitzer was absorbed in the famous St. Louis Walk of Fame.
A Pulitzer Art Museum was established in St Louis in his honour.
The famous Hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam was established to honour this great man.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1878, Joseph Pulitzer married Kate Davis, a woman quite prominent in her own accord. The couple had seven children, of whom five survived till adulthood.
He died on October 29, 1911, in his yacht, in South Carolina