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Joseph Pulitzer: The Life and Legacy of America’s Most Controversial Publisher

Narrated by: Dan Gallagher
Length: 1 hr and 37 mins
2 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

“Publicity, publicity, publicity is the greatest moral factor and force in our public life.” -Joseph Pulitzer

Say the name Pulitzer and the minds of many across the world quickly turn to the famous prizes given for excellence in journalism, literature, and music, but these prizes were named after a man believed to have been tormented by some of the choices he had made during his life. Coming to America as a nearly penniless immigrant, he demonstrated that the young nation could be a land of opportunity, and he earned money and fame largely through hard work. Later, as the owner of one of the most powerful papers in the country, he seemed to develop an almost frenzied need to stay on top, no matter the cost. Writing for the Post-Dispatch in 1997, Harry Levins observed that Pulitzer considered journalism “a serious instrument of civilization, yet in some periods filled his front pages with froth and sensationalism. Sided with the common man, yet lived like the Gilded Age millionaire he was. Waxed indignant at big business and its profit-seeking machinations, yet insisted that his own big business turn a tidy profit.”

Indeed, in an effort to turn a profit, plenty of his contemporaries believed he went way too far. In a battle to sell papers, he played a significant role in the burgeoning industry of “yellow journalism,” and following the Spanish-American War, he often struggled to come to terms with the role he had played in getting America involved in that conflict. As he grew older, he would attempt to step away from that reputation, and in an effort to redeem himself, he bequeathed much of his fortune to organizations that could establish scholarships and even the first school of journalism, teaching future journalists who came after him to do better. 

Joseph Pulitzer: The Life and Legacy of America’s Most Controversial Publisher examines the various roles Pulitzer played in American journalism and politics during his life, and how he shaped the industry.

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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