Joseph Pulitzer - 2006

Pulitzer emigrated from his birthplace in Hungary to New York in 1864 when he was 17. He settled in St. Louis and within four years was working for a German-language daily newspaper, the Westliche Post. He was elected to the Missouri State Assembly in 1869 as a Republican.  In 1872, Pulitzer purchased the Post for $3,000, and seven years later, he bought the St. Louis Dispatch for $2,700, merging the two papers into the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It was here that Pulitzer developed his role as a champion of the common man with exposés and a hard-hitting populist approach. Branching out even more, Pulitzer purchased the New York World in 1882 and continued to achieve journalistic “firsts” including hiring the famous female investigative reporter Nellie Bly in 1887, and, in 1895, introducing the immensely popular comic The Yellow Kid, the first newspaper comic printed with color. The paper’s circulation grew from 15,000 to 600,000, making it the largest newspaper in the country. Pulitzer’s competition with Hearst in the New York market, particularly the coverage before and during the Spanish-American War, linked their names with the practice of  yellow journalism. Upon his death in 1911 Pulitzer left Columbia University $2 million in his will, specifying the money be used to establish the Pulitzer Prizes.