Discover the Man Behind the Prizes in PBS' 'Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People'

Rick and Christina Gables
Courtesy of PBS

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People explores the remarkable man behind the prestigious prizes in PBS' American Masters.

The documentary, premiering Friday, April 12, profiles the Jewish immigrant from Hungary, who began as a gifted journalist before becoming a successful publisher and businessman. Pulitzer was famous in his own time for his outspoken and cantankerous editorial voice and his newspapers’ striking illustrations, visual style, national circulation and financial success.

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Against the context of America’s explosive growth as a world force during the Gilded Age, Pulitzer emerged as the country’s first media titan, reshaping the newspaper to bear witness to and even propel that transformation.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Joseph Pulitzer championed what he regarded as the sacred role of the free press in a democracy. At the end of Pulitzer’s life, President Theodore Roosevelt sued him for “criminal libel,” citing the ongoing investigation of potential corruption in the building of the Panama Canal.

Pulitzer’s little-known Supreme Court victory in 1911 established important precedent for the First Amendment right to free speech and resonates strongly in today’s fraught political environment.

Courtesy of PBS

Narrated by Adam Driver, the documentary tells the story of Pulitzer’s life and accomplishments through a combination of archival footage, reenactments and interviews with authors, journalists and scholars. Liev Schreiber is the voice of Pulitzer. Tim Blake Nelson is the voice of Roosevelt and Rachel Brosnahan is the voice of investigative journalist Nellie Bly.

American Masters, Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People, Friday, April 12, 9/8c, PBS (Check your local listings)