Pulitzer pixThe Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference is proud to announce it will be closing out the 2019 conference with a free screening of Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People.

  • The screening begins at 3:30 p.m., 7th Floor of the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
  • A panel Q & A to follow, moderated by Wayne Dawkins, Morgan State University, featuring Oren Rudavsky, Voice of the People director/co-writer; Robert Seidman, documentary co-writer; Chris Daly, a journalism professor and press historian from Boston University; and Andie Tucher, a journalism professor and press historian from Columbia University.
  • Click here to view a trailer to the film.
  • This screening is open to friends of #JJCHC2019 attendees, but guests are asked to register online at our EventBrite site.


From the producers: Scheduled to air on the national PBS series “American Masters” in April 2019, this film tells the rags-to-riches story of an immigrant Hungarian whose contentious, wildly popular newspapers were a Gilded Age phenomena, able to present New York City and eventually the entire country with a boldly humane and progressive agenda. The film has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Carnegie Corporation and WNET-Channel 13’s American Masters. Through Joseph Pulitzer’s story the director hopes to challenge the difficult agenda the United States currently faces. The documentary concentrates on the importance of governmental truth-telling, insists on the vital importance of a vibrant, challenging press and dramatizes how Pulitzer himself, though blind and ill, courageously stood up to a presidential assault on freedom of speech.

The documentary film features the voice overs of NYC-based actors, including Liev Schreiber as Joseph Pulitzer; Adam Driver as the Narrator; Tim Blake Nelson as Theodore Roosevelt; Hugh Dancy as Alleyne Ireland, Pulitzer’s private secretary; Lauren Ambrose as Kate Pulitzer; and Rachel Brosnahan as Nellie Bly.

Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) was a difficult man, convinced of his rectitude and profoundly proud of the political clout of his two newspapers, the St Louis Post-Dispatch and The World. Even after he became a millionaire Pulitzer’s beliefs remained fiercely egalitarian. In hundreds of editorials and articles he opposed miscreants large and small, from the misnamed “Trusts” to the local dairy farm that sold adulterated milk. The publisher became widely celebrated for his populist crusades – launching a successful campaign to abolish the one-penny pedestrian toll on the Brooklyn Bridge, inventing a novel “crowd-funding” strategy to erect the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, publicly shaming wealthy tax evaders, excoriating Tammany Hall for its arrogant corruption of the political process. Pulitzer fought to establish decent wages and improve the living and working conditions of industrial America’s labor force. And he did this by publishing America’s best-selling, first truly national daily, the Manhattan-based World.

This film depicts his meteoric rise and subsequent decades of success. In vivid, colorful detail we celebrate the staggering visual innovations of his newspapers. The documentary opens and closes with his final public act, which may have been his most noteworthy achievement. The dispute involved $40 million of Congressional funding for the construction of the Panama Canal that improbably vanished. Because Pulitzer persistently editorialized that something was amiss, Roosevelt sued the publisher under the charge of “criminal libel,” an unprecedented Federal legal position. Blind and ill, the publisher fought a multi-year constitutional battle all the way to the Supreme Court. Nine months before the publisher’s death in October 1911, the Court ruled unanimously in his favor, thus offering a guarantee we especially need now— that a Chief Executive could be criticized for questionable actions and could not muzzle America’s free press.

Today America faces a president who steadfastly denies Russian interference in the 2016 election and launches almost daily Twitter attacks on the mainstream media as purveyors of “fake news.” (Pulitzer first used the phrase in a 1902 editorial.) With the First Amendment guarantee of an independent press under assault, Pulitzer’s crusading zeal about the importance of untrammeled investigative journalism is increasingly relevant. The producers and director believe Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People effectively illustrates both the indispensable role of hard-hitting, responsible reporting to American society and the need for informed citizenry in order to maintain a functioning democracy. They also think its a hugely entertaining story.