Sample History Essays on Joseph Pulitzer

Joseph Pulitzer

Over the last two years the issue of immigrants has been a hot topic in the US with a section of the society expressing discomfort with the the increasing number of immigrants into America. Some of the reasons behind the controversy surrounding immigration include the notion that they take jobs away from natives and increase insecurity. Nonetheless, throughout US history immigrants have played a major role in improving the society. Joseph Pulitzer is one of the many immigrants who crossed migrated from Europe and is today celebrated as one of the best journalists to have ever graced the field.

Journalism has metamorphosed due to the proliferation of new technology, particularly the internet to remain relevant. The introduction of online news outlets enabled journalists to present news on the global platform, which comes with a huge audience. While technology has significantly affected the art of journalism, individuals in the field have also contributed a lot in revolutionized the dissemination of news. One of these individuals is Joseph Pulitzer, publisher and editor.  A prestigious award in journalism, The Pulitzer Prize, is named after him, which indicates the weight of his contribution to the field of journalism.

European Roots of Pulitzer

He was Born on April 10, 1847, in a Hungarian town called Mako. Joseph Pulitzer was the son of, Philip Pulitzer, a Jewish-Hungarian, and Louise Berger a German and devout Roman Catholic . His father was a respected businessperson who was a grain merchant[1]. Due to his father’s success, his family moved to the country’s capital, Budapest. Joseph attended private school in the new town and was tutored to improve his grades. However, shortly after moving to the nation’s capital, Philip passed away[2]. Louise Berger remarried later a factor that changed the family setup. Reportedly, Joseph did not get along with his step-father, which pushed him towards enlisting in the military: first the French Foreign Legion, then the Austrian Army, and later the British military[3]. Nevertheless, he was rejectedby all the three armed forces because he failed to meet the health standards of the bodies. He later moved to Germany where he met an Army recruiter working for the Union Army. It was at this time that Joseph got a chance arrive in the United States.

Coming to America

Joseph Pulitzer arrived in the United States in 1894 and took part in the Civil War for a year. After the war had been won, he sort out to find some form of employment in the New York area; however, at the time the competition for work was significant meaning he could not find a job immediately. As the months passed, Joseph grew increasingly frustrated later moving from New York to Kansas City, Missouri where he worked on a number of odd jobs such as cart driver, a waiter, and a mule tender[4]. Nevertheless, in the thick of things, Joseph got a major breakthrough when he joined the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad company where he worked as a record keeper particularly in issues regarding land rights. It was during this time that he began studying law and continued to improve his English. His efforts soon bore success that landed him his first journalistic job at the Westliche Post, a German newspaper agency located in Kansas City.[5].

Give Them What They Want to Read

His first job at the Westliche Post introduced Joseph into a new world of public interests. Joseph’s inquisitive nature saw him develop a knack for public inquests; however, as a novice, he had little chance to air his ideas[6]. In 1878 after marrying Ms. Kate Davis, a nice to the popular Jefferson Davis, Pulitzer bought the St. Louis Dispatch. He later merged it with the Post thus giving rise to The Post-Dispatch during the same year. The Post-Dispatch gave Pulitzer the opportunity to express himself as a journalist as he wished to write different stories from what other outlets were presenting to the public thus coming up with the now famous phrase ‘Give Them What They Want to Read[7]. Pulitzer forte was writing investigative articles particularly those that targeted widespread government corruption, tax fraud, gambling, as well as other controversial stories. As cited by Barrett, James W. author of the book ‘Joseph Pulitzer and His World’ after the birth of The Post-Dispatch saw Pulitzer become ‘a true newspaperman’[8].

New York Expansion

The fresh outlook brought by Pulitzer was well accepted by the public who wanted more of the investigative perspective of their surroundings. Five years later in 1883, Pulitzer returned to the New York scene when he bought the New York World. With the same vigor seen in St. Louis his articles expose corruption, fraud, as well as other injustices committed in the ‘big apple’[9]. However, with growing notice, Pulitzer saw another opportunity to increase his audience a factor that saw the introduction of artists who aided in creating a visual aspect to the news. As of 1884, the New York World grew to become the most read newsprint in the entire United States[10].

Yellow Journalism

The growing recognition of New York World all across US states did not go unnoticed considering the amounts of money Pulitzer’s organization was making as well as re-investing into finding better stories by the day. According to Iris, Noble, one of the authors about Pulitzer, he had a unique way of making a dull story exciting through the introduction of a controversial viewpoint[11]. However, other newsprint companies used this technique to propagate stories with partial truth in order to boost ratings. William Randolph Hearst purchased the New York Journal and soon after introduced the concept of Yellow Journalism into mainstream print media. Yellow journalism is defined as the publicizing of fictional stories that have been significantly sensationalized or exaggerated as truth[12]. During the period, the New York Journal became famous for such stories particularly because he enticed cartoonists from different parts of the world to work for him. His cartoon column was known as the ‘Yellow Kid.’ Soon after the competition to sell newspapers shifted to a competition to telling the best stories by using both actual events as well as fiction.

With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War as well as the US foreign policy in the Caribbean the New York World and New York Journal set up one of the most reviewed journalistic battles known to date. According to Seitz, Don ‘, the stories were what the people wanted to read’[13]. However, the battle for publicity took a turn for the worse with the sinking of the Maine. Frenzied by the stories being posted, the public failed to distinguish between truth and fictional work and soon there was a proposal for war with the nation that sank the United States ship. The phrase ‘Remember the Maine’ became a public outcry for war[14].

The image above is the front page of the New York World about the story of the skiing of US battleship ‘the Maine’. Dissimilar to other stories this was Pulitzer’s most famous attempt on yellow journalism. Due to its effects on the public, Pulitzer opted to end the rivalry between the two print media houses four months after the publication of the afore-presented copy. He then went back to his beginnings where he sort to only write real stories and not fictional. However, this was not to mean that Pulitzer was not controversial in his writing, in 1909 he was arrested for writing an article incriminating the president[15]. According to Pulitzer, the president had played elaborate rue in buying the Panama canal from the French. After being taken to court for deformation of the US presidents image he was found not guilty considering the amount of proof he presented to the courts.

The Pulitzer award

On October 29, 1911, in South Carolina Pulitzer died aboard his yacht. In his will, he donated 2 million dollars to the development as well as the establishment of the journalism at Columbia University in New York City. Additionally, the terms of his will also indicated that on a yearly basis an award to honor achievements in the journalism world with his name would be presented to a deserving individual who highlights a high level of innovation and professionalism. Mr. Pulitzer played a significant role in the change of how journalism is viewed. Firstly his view to offer the public with what they wanted to read though controversial stories are considered as a contemporary take on how best to express freedom of the press. Today both television and audio print use a similar tactic to present issues that once before could be avoided. Secondly, Mr. Pulitzer’s use of artistic impressions (cartoons) best pass across information remains revolutionary. images are global journalistic tools that can be interpreted with humor while presenting the truth[16].

Conclusion

Joseph Pulitzer a Hungarian-born American publisher and editor is credited for making of the biggest changes in the journalism world through his dedicated towards presenting the public with the best possible information about their surroundings. His contributions are celebrated to this date considering the difficulties he endure in both a personal and professional life. This article provides a summary of his lifetime achievements and challenges through the journey that saw him become one of the greats in the journalism business.

 

Bibliography

Barrett, James W. Joseph Pulitzer and His World. New York: Vanguard Press, 1941.

Brian, Denis. Pulitzer: A Life. New York: J. Wiley, 2001.

Noble, Iris. Joseph Pulitzer: Front Page Pioneer. New York: Messner, 1957.

Seitz, Don C. Joseph Pulitzer: His Life and Letters. New York; AMS Press, 1970.

Whitelaw, Nancy. Joseph Pulitzer and the New York World. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds, 2000.

 

[1] James W Barrett,. Joseph Pulitzer and His World. New York: Vanguard Press, 1941.

[2] Denis, Brian. Pulitzer: A Life. New York: J. Wiley, 2001.

[3] James W Barrett,. Joseph Pulitzer and His World. New York: Vanguard Press, 1941.

[4]Don, C Seitz. Joseph Pulitzer: His Life and Letters. New York; AMS Press, 1970

[5] Iris, Noble. Joseph Pulitzer: Front Page Pioneer. New York: Messner, 1957.

[6] Don, C Seitz. Joseph Pulitzer: His Life and Letters. New York; AMS Press, 1970

[7] Iris, Noble. Joseph Pulitzer: Front Page Pioneer. New York: Messner, 1957.

[8] James W Barrett,. Joseph Pulitzer and His World. New York: Vanguard Press, 1941.

[9]Nancy, Whitelaw. Joseph Pulitzer and the New York World. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds, 2000.

[10] Denis, Brian. Pulitzer: A Life. New York: J. Wiley, 2001.

[11] Iris, Noble. Joseph Pulitzer: Front Page Pioneer. New York: Messner, 1957.

[12] James W Barrett,. Joseph Pulitzer and His World. New York: Vanguard Press, 1941.

[13] Seitz, Don C. Joseph Pulitzer: His Life and Letters. New York; AMS Press, 1970.

[14] Brian, Denis. Pulitzer: A Life. New York: J. Wiley, 2001.

 

[15]James, W Barrett. Joseph Pulitzer and His World. New York: Vanguard Press, 1941.

[16] Whitelaw, Nancy. Joseph Pulitzer and the New York World. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds, 2000.