Joseph PulitzerJoseph Pulitzer was a Hungarian publisher during the Gilded Age that changed the way journalism is today. Pulitzer influenced the way journalists today seek viewership, not by placing the focus on accurate information, rather to draw the reader in with a flashy headline, today this process is known as clickbait. When he was 25 years old, Pulitzer was given the job of head publisher of the German newspaper, Westliche Post. In 1878 he purchased his first newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was determined to make his papers appealing to the public and he did this by publishing investigative articles and editorials that exposed wealthy tax-dodgers and government corruption.
The approach was super successful, and the paper flourished. In 1883, Pulitzer purchased the New York World for an astoundishing $300,000. Upon purchasing the paper, he vowed to use the paper to expose corruption. The World investigated many issues of the Democratic Party.
He sought to expose corrupt practices in big businesses and the federal government. He was responsible for the passage of anti-trust legislation of the insurance companies. Pulitzer wanted to make sure his knowledge on investigative journalism would be passed on, in 1904, Pulitzer proposed the founding of a school of journalism, Pulitzer summarized his ideas by stating, “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery.” In 1909, The World exposed a fraudulent transaction of over $40 million by the United States to the French-Panama Canal Company. The government countered back by indicting Pulitzer for criminally libeling President Theodore Roosevelt and J.P.
Morgan. Pulitzer refused to stand down, and The World continued in its investigation due to the rights granted in the constitution. When the courts ignored the accusations, Pulitzer was given credit for gaining more freedoms to the press.
Because of Pulitzer’s contribution to free press, more scandles were exposed and journalism was made mainstream, with record high viewership, the future genrations of journalist now knew how to take on not only big buisnesses, but the government as well. In 1912, one year after Pulitzer’s death, the Columbia School of Journalism was founded, and the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in 1917. The 19-member board is composed of leading editors or news executives. The board is self-perpetuating in the election of members. In the selection of the members of the board and of the juries, close attention is given to professional excellence and affiliation, as well as diversity in terms of gender, race, and news organization.