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Joseph Pulitzer is an American newspaper journalist, editor, and publisher famous for his crusade against the corruption of officials and big businesses. He founded the Columbia University School of Journalism. The university administers the provision of his will, awarding outstanding work in American journalism, photography, literature, history, poetry, music, and drama, which they named Pulitzer Prize.
See the fact file below for more information on the Joseph Pulitzer or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Joseph Pulitzer worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY
- Joseph Pulitzer was born on April 10, 1847, in Mako, Hungary.
- Pulitzer came from a wealthy family of Magyar Jewish Origin.
- His father, Fulop Pulitzer, is a well-respected merchant.
- The family went bankrupt when his father died.
- He tried to enlist in different armies but was rebuffed due to his poor eyesight and frail health.
- He was enlisted in the U.S. Union army as a substitute drafter and made his way to Boston.
- He jumped ship in Lincoln Cavalry to keep his bounty. His fluency in German and French helped his way to the Cavalry.
LIFE AFTER THE WAR
- Life was difficult for Pulitzer after the war. He moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, for the whaling industry, but only stayed less than a year.
- He returned to New York with little money and slept in wagons on cobblestone side streets.
- He traveled to St. Louis, Missouri in a freight boxcar by selling his only possession, a white handkerchief, for $75.
- He worked different jobs in St. Louis, but his health and upbringing made it difficult for him to hold a job.
- He frequented a library where editors of the leading German-language daily, Westliche Post, played chess. He wittily critiqued and described the moves and the players of the chess game.
- Pulitzer impressed the two editors. One of them was Carl Schurz, owner of the Westliche Post (Western Post), who offered him a job.
- His first published work was in 1867. It was about a group of men who were promised a good-paying job at a sugar plantation in Louisiana. It turned out that it was a ruse.
- After four years, his reputation as a journalist was established. He was granted American citizenship. He mastered the English language so well that he became a writer, speaker, and editor.
- He and his wife became frequent attendees of the social elite parties and horseback riding outings.
- Later, he assumed ownership of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he worked tirelessly. He made the masses believe that his newspaper was their champion.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran stories about politics. They published investigative articles about corruption, wealthy tax-dodgers, and gamblers.
- He moved to New York and bought the New York World. For a while, he used the newspaper as a tool for Yellow Journalism.
HIS LIFE IN NEW YORK
- Joseph Pulitzer bought the New York World from Jay Goud in 1883. Still owning the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he left the management of the newspaper to his partner, John Dillon.
- He moved to New York with his wife, Kate Davis, and their children.
- Despite his failing health and eyesight, he became a congressman in New York City in 1884.
- He gave up the position in 1886, finding it difficult to divide his life between New York and Washington D.C.
- He and his paper, the New York World, were instrumental to President Grover Cleveland being elected in 1884.
- He built the tallest building at the time in New York. He and his readers help raised money to build the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.
- He hired Nellie Bly, and the New York World became the standard of investigative journalism. Her stories exposed the wrongdoings of American institutions.
RIVALRY WITH WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST
- William Randolph Hearst used “Yellow Journalism” of the New York Journal to sell stories.
- Yellow Journalism is journalism based on sensationalizing the truth with little to no evidence.
- Succumbing to its popularity, Pulitzer temporarily sacrificed his newspaper tagline, “Accuracy! Terseness! Accuracy!”
- The rivalry became more heated during the controversy about the U.S.-Spain War in 1898. They wrote overdramatized stories that caused the readers to call for war against Spain.
- After the war was called off, Pulitzer came back to his original and better standards and committed to them until he died.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND LEGACY
- The Pulitzer Prize is a prestigious award given to outstanding work in journalism, literature, music, poetry, and drama.
- Pulitzer donated two million dollars to help begin the Columbia University School of Journalism.
- It is administered by Columbia University, who started to give awards in 1917.
- The awarding of the Pulitzer Prize is part of Joseph Pulitzer’s will.
- Joseph Pulitzer helped fight corruption, abuse of power, and social evils by exposing the truth in his papers despite threats of the people involved.
- The management of his newspapers was inherited by his sons.
- Although the New York World had stopped its circulation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was still up and running.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT JOSEPH PULITZER
- Joseph Pulitzer had seven children, but only five lived.
- The Pulitzer family ran the St. Louis Post-Dispatch until 1995 when Joseph Pulitzer’s great great granddaughter had to leave due to a management dispute.
- Joseph Pulitzer died in his yacht on October 29, 1911, due to heart failure.
- He built a room with soundproof walls on his yacht “The Liberty.” He was known to be hypersensitive to noise.
- His health had been continually frail since their move to New York. He was blind and almost invalid during the last years of his life.
Joseph Pulitzer Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Joseph Pulitzer across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Joseph Pulitzer worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Joseph Pulitzer who is an American newspaper journalist, editor, and publisher famous for his crusade against the corruption of officials and big businesses. He founded the Columbia University School of Journalism. The university administers the provision of his will, awarding outstanding work in American journalism, photography, literature, history, poetry, music, and drama, which they named Pulitzer Prize.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Joseph Pulitzer Facts
- Pulitzer’s Life
- Yellow Journalism Battle
- People Page
- Pulitzer’s Era
- Facts Only
- The Pulitzer Prize Goes To….
- Editorial: Double War
- Pulitzer’s Legacies
- Pulitzer’s Journalistic Life
- Abolish Yellow Journalism
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