Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Joseph Pulitzer established journalism prize

Joseph Pulitzer
It is the birthday of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer (1847), who gave $2 million for the establishment of a journalism school at Columbia University and the Pulitzer prizes in journalism, letters and the arts. The first prizes were awarded in 1917, after Pulitzer's death. Pulitzer emigrated from Budapest to Boston in 1864, joined the Lincoln Cavalry and fought in the Civil War under Sheridan. After he war, he ended up in St. Louis, where he worked a series of odd jobs. He and other young men were taken by a con artist who charged them five dollars to find them work in Louisiana. They took a steamboat down the Mississippi River and were left stranded along the way. Back in St. Louis, Pulitzer wrote an article about the experience and, to his surprise, it was published in a local paper. It was probably his first published article. Later, Pulitzer became the paper's managing editor, sold his interest and bought the St. Louis Post, then the St. Louis Dispatch, merged the papers and became a wealthy man. His St. Louis Post-Dispatch thrived on scandal and exposés and became the champion of the common man. In 1883, he bought the failing New York World and transformed it into the largest circulation newspaper in the country, emphasizing crusading journalism and entertainment. During the Spanish-American War, the World battled William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Charles A. Dana's New York Sun for readership.

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