Joseph Pulitzer was born in 1847 in Makó, Hungary. He emigrated to the United States when he was seventeen years old, and was naturalised on his twentieth birthday. He spent his career in journalism working in the mid-west and New York. From 1871 he was also the owner or part-owner of many newspapers.
His most famous newspaper was the New York World (which many believe was the model for the Daily Planet of the Superman stories). The World campaigned against corruption, and exposed many scandals. It was also a strong supporter of the rights of the working man.
In later life, Joseph Pulitzer collapsed from overwork, and lost his sight. He became dedicated to improving the quality of journalism in America, and donated $1 million to Columbia University to found a school of journalism. However, his most significant contribution was the establishment of the Pulitzer prizes in his will.
These prizes for excellence in journalism have been given every year since 1917 by Columbia University. Since 1942 there have been extra categories for press photography, and later still for criticism, feature writing and commentary. The prize was originally for $500, but today the winners of the prize receive a gold medal.
However, the real value of the prize is that it confirms that the journalist who has received the award is the best American journalist of the year - a fact that is worth much more than $500 to the journalist and to the newspaper that employs him or her.