This reading comprehension includes difficult vocabulary (in bold) defined at the end, as well as a reading comprehension quiz to check your understanding.
Joseph Pulitzer (April 10, 1847 – October 29, 1911) was a Hungarian-American publisher best known for posthumously establishing the Pulitzer Prizes and (along with William Randolph Hearst) for originating yellow journalism.
Pulitzer was born in Makó, Hungary, Pulitzer sought a military career, but was turned down by the Austrian army for frail health and poor eyesight. He emigrated to the United States in 1864 to serve in the American Civil War. After the war he settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where in 1868 he began working for a German-language daily newspaper, the Westliche Post. He joined the Republican Party and was elected to the Missouri State Assembly in 1869. In 1872, Pulitzer purchased the Post for $3,000. Then, in 1879, he bought the St. Louis Dispatch for $2,700 and merged the two papers, which became the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which remains St. Louis' daily newspaper. It was at the Post-Dispatch that Pulitzer developed his role as a champion of the common man with exposès and a hard-hitting populist approach.
In 1882 Pulitzer, by then a wealthy man, purchased the New York World, a newspaper that had been losing $40,000 a year, for $346,000 from Jay Gould. Pulitzer shifted its focus to human-interest stories, scandal, and sensationalism. In 1885, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but resigned after a few months' service. In 1887, he recruited the famous investigative journalist Nellie Bly. In 1895 the World introduced the immensely popular The Yellow Kid comic by Richard F. Outcault, the first newspaper comic printed with color. Under Pulitzer's leadership circulation grew from 15,000 to 600,000, making it the largest newspaper in the country.
In 1890 Pulitzer's already failing health deteriorated rapidly and he withdrew from the daily management of the newspaper, although he continued to actively manage the paper from his vacation retreat in Bar Harbor, Maine, and his New York mansion.
In 1895, William Randolph Hearst purchased the rival New York Journal, which led to a circulation war. This competition with Hearst, particularly the coverage before and during the Spanish-American War, linked Pulitzer's name with yellow journalism.
After the World exposed a fraudulent payment of $40 million by the United States to the French Panama Canal Company in 1909, Pulitzer was indicted for libeling Theodore Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan. The courts dismissed the indictments in a victory for freedom of the press.
In 1892, Pulitzer offered Columbia University's president, Seth Low, money to set up the world's first school of journalism. The university initially turned down the money, evidently unimpressed by Pulitzer's unscrupulous character. In 1902, Columbia's new president Nicholas Murray Butler was more receptive to the plan for a school and prizes, but it would not be until after Pulitzer's death that this dream would be fulfilled. Pulitzer left the university $2 million in his will, which led to the creation in 1912 of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, but by then the first school of journalism had been created at the University of Missouri. Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism remains one of the most prestigious in the world.
Joseph Pulitzer died aboard his yacht in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina in 1911. He is interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York. In 1917, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded, in accordance with Pulitzer's wishes.
In 1989 Pulitzer was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
This exercise employs the biography of Joesph Pulitzer at Wikipedia.
unscrupulous - not scrupulous; unrestrained by scruples; conscienceless; unprincipled.
evidently - obviously; clearly
linked Pulitzer's name with - connected Pulitzer's name with
libeling - act of publishing false accusations or statements
to indicte - to be charged with in a legal court
fraudulent - false; incorrect
to expose - make something public that was previously hidden
coverage - press or media reporting of news
mansion - extremely large and luxurious home
vacation retreat - a home that one goes to on vacation in order to relax
to withdraw - to leave; stop working
to deteriorate - become worse
failing health - health that is becoming worse
circulation - (in this context) amount of newspapers sold
investigative journalist - journalist who investigates news stories in-depth
immensely - extremely
to recruit - to find someone to work for you
sensationalism - media technique that takes advantage of articles that appeal to public opinion to sell newspapers
human-interest - focused on information about human situations
shifted its focus - changed its main idea
populist - appealing to the public
hard-hitting - very forceful
exposès - news story
champion of the common man - someone who tries to help normal people with their needs / problems
to merge - to combine two or more companies into one
to settle - to move to and begin to live in a community
to emigrate - to move and settle in a new country
frail - very weak
to seek - to actively look for
yellow journalism - Journalism that exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers
posthumously - after the death of someone
will - final document stating who will receive money, property, etc. after someone dies
prestigious - very famous and important
yacht - luxury boat
to inter - to put in prison
in accordance with Pulitzer's wishes - as Pultizer wished to do
to be inducted into - to be included in an important instution (usually a hall of fame)
Check your understanding with this comprehension quiz