The Hungarian-born Pulitzer immigrated to America 1864; he was penniless, spoke very little English, and knew no one. After several poverty-stricken years—he slept on park benches and took the most menial jobs—Pulitzer landed a job at a German-language newspaper in St. Louis, and within a year rose from reporter to managing editor.
In 1878, he launched the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and five years later, the New York World, transforming both papers into examples of exceptional journalism. He was also an elected member of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.
By the time of his death in 1911, Pulitzer had one of the richest households in America, according to his New York Times obituary. He gave $1 million of his fortune to Columbia University for its journalism school, and in 1917, the university began awarding Pulitzer Prizes.
Publishing titan William Randolph Hearst described Pulitzer as “the founder and foremost exemplar of modern journalism—the great originator and exponent of the journalism of action and achievement.”