The Pulitzer Legacy

One of Hungary’s great gifts to the United States was Joseph Pulitzer, founder of the Columbia School of Journalism and the Pulitzer Prize. On October 29 we mark the 100th anniversary of his death.

Pulitzer traveled to America speaking almost no English and at age eighteen served in the Union for the last year of the Civil War. Afterword he moved to St. Louis, joined the Republican Party and later, upset with the corruption he saw, became a Democrat.

In 1879 he bought and merged the St. Louis Dispatch and the St. Louis Post, creatively naming the combined enterprise the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Later he bought The New York World. Journalistic crusades against corruption became his hallmark. Most famously he uncovered a fraudulent $40 million payment by the U.S. government to the French Panama Canal Company. The government lodged a suit against him, accusing him of libeling President Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan. The courts dismissed the suit, and Pulitzer was hailed as a hero.

Besides the Pulitzer Prize which he established in his will, he also left behind some choice bits of wisdom and advice for the world of publishing which still ring true today:

  • A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will in time produce a people as base as itself.
  • 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.
  • I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people.
  • Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.
  • There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy. Get these things out in the open, describe them, attack them, ridicule them in the press, and sooner or later public opinion will sweep them away. Publicity may not be the only thing that is needed, but it is the one thing without which all other agencies will fail.

So thank you, Hungary, for enriching us with your immigrants.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

One thought on “The Pulitzer Legacy”

  1. Too bad, the worst rules in the media of today, the news people are what the old reporter reported long ago, mostly prostitutes bought and paid for by the corporate owners of the mass communications empires. They are now darwinized along with the educational system, the scientism establishment, the entertainment medium, bank rolled by a fantastically evil conspiracy, and hardly worth mentioning in the long run in the light of the coming Third Great Awakening. God’s grace is more than equal to any occasion of evil, and the glory of Christ counts for far more than charades. We await the first of 1000 generations, hoping and praying that it might begin in this that every soul on earth gets converted. Then the work continues for 999 more generations and a thousand thousand worlds in order for God to crack the humorous remark in Rev.7:9. Orthodox, Sovereign Grace theology is much more universal in its implications by the most opposite means, the paradoxical intervention, the therapeutic paradox, than any universalist scheme thus far offered in all of history. There is more love and care anc concern in the expression, “God hates” than in all of the love expressions that man can imagine.

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