Early Life and Career
Hungry for adventure, Pulitzer immigrated to the United States in 1864 from Hungary in order to serve in the American Civil War. After the war, he moved to St. Louis, where he quickly rose in the ranks of the Republican Party, achieving the Missouri State Assembly in 1869. After the futile election campaign of Horace Greeley for president, Pulitzer defected to the Democratic Party. He was a brilliant journalist, single-handedly bringing about the merging of the St. Louis Post and the St. Louis Dispatch. The Post-Dispatch remains St. Louis' daily newspaper.
In 1883 Pulitzer purchased the New York World and converted the failing newspaper into a thriving franchise by reporting on spectacular and sensational stories. By 1895, it was the largest newspaper in the United States in circulation. The term "Yellow Journalism" came to be associated with Pulitzer's showman-like style after his paper's aggressive coverage of the Spanish-American War.
Role in Establishing the Journalism School
In 1892 Pulitzer offered the then-president Seth Low money to establish the world's first journalism school. Low was not impressed by the newspaper magnate's unscrupulous reputation and refused. Butler was a little more receptive, prompting the magnate to leave $2 million to Columbia University in his will. The Journalism School was founded in 1912, according to Joseph Pulitzer's wishes. However, thanks to initial Low's insistence on maintaining the University's image, the J-School failed to become the first journalism school in the world; this distinction goes to Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, which was founded in 1908 under Pulitzer's direction and endorsement.
The first Pulitzer Prizes were handed out in 1917, according to the old man's wishes.
Journalism School Building
In 2012, the Journalism building was renamed Pulitzer Hall, in belated accord with Joseph Pulitzer's original gift agreement with the University, which stipulated that "the building shall bear the name of the donor." Better a century late than never.