Friday, March 20, 2015

Joseph “Jay” Pulitzer IV Dead at 65 of Sudden, Massive Heart Attack; was Once Heir to Newspaper Fortune, but was Forced Out in Family Feud; Namesake of Journalistic Booby Prize



Joseph “Jay” Pulitzer IV, late 1980s

The obituary below is pretty thin gruel. It doesn’t sound like the guy did anything. If he’d been any kind of a journalist, his old paper, the Post-Dispatch, would be listing the important stories he broke, or otherwise had a hand in. And who retires at 45? His uncle and stepmother must have had to pay him millions in a buy-out. If newspapering had truly been in his blood, he would have founded his own little newspaper in Big Horn, Wyoming. Heck, I had no money and no family newspaper tradition, when I founded my magazine, A Different Drummer, in 1989.

What did he spend the last 20 years doing, watching Oprah?

“Jay” Pulitzer, former heir to newspaper empire, dies at 65
By Michael D. Sorkin
1 hour ago [Circa 3 p.m.]

Joseph Pulitzer IV, once an heir to the Pulitzer newspaper empire, has died at age 65.

He died Thursday (March 19, 2015) at a hospital in California, where he had been visiting a daughter. He suffered a massive heart attack, a family spokesman said today.

He called himself "Joe Four" but he was known by his byline, “Jay” Pulitzer. He was the great-grandson of Joseph Pulitzer, who founded the Post-Dispatch in 1878.

He was the only child of Joseph Pulitzer Jr. (actually the third Joseph Pulitzer), the principal owner of the Pulitzer Publishing Co.

Jay Pulitzer had been groomed to take over the family business. In the end, that did not happen.

For years, he made the rounds at the newspaper, starting as a reporter; then correspondent in the Jefferson City and Washington bureaus; late-night city editor, arriving at work at 10:30 p.m.; and finally vice-president, with a big office and a comparable salary.

He seemed happiest when the "Grateful Dead" came to town and he reviewed the band for the paper.

He was proud of the Pulitzer name. When his son, Joseph Pulitzer V was born in 1983, Jay Pulitzer announced the news in a four-paragraph story in the Post-Dispatch.

"It's tradition, whenever a new Joseph Pulitzer is born," he explained.

The relationship between Jay and his own father was strained, as relationships between fathers and sons sometimes are. His father once gave him a present, a sports coat from Brooks Brothers. Jay quietly rebelled from his father's effort to improve his son's wardrobe and waited two years before going to the store to pick up the coat.

Unlike his father, Jay Pulitzer was determined to live modestly, and he did, in an apartment in the Central West End and later a house in Dogtown. His usual uniform was corduroy jeans and mismatched shirts and ties.

As a member of the employee union the Newspaper Guild, Jay Pulitzer took part in a strike in 1978 against the Post-Dispatch. He helped put out a strike paper.

At the newspaper, Jay's power as a top executive was limited — he was in charge of facilities inside the newspaper and the security guards in and around the building.

After Jay's father died in 1993, his uncle, Michael Pulitzer, took over as head of the company. Majority control of the stock eventually went to his stepmother, Emily Pulitzer.

The controlling family members forced Jay Pulitzer out of the company two years after his father's death. Jay Pulitzer said he was offered a job as consultant but he was told that he didn't have to do any work.

With his newspaper career at an end, Jay Pulitzer retired to Big Horn, Wyo., at the base of the Big Horn Mountains. Jay and his father had visited there during happier times.

In 2005, Emily and Michael Pulitzer and a Pulitzer cousin in New York sold the Post-Dispatch and the rest of the newspaper chain to Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa.

Joe Whittington, a former editor at the Post-Dispatch who kept in touch with Jay Pulitzer, recalled that the two had exchanged texts several weeks ago — Jay did not use email. "Everything seemed fine," Whittington said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Survivors include his wife, Patricia Turner of Big Horn; three daughters, Elkhanah Pulitzer of El Cerrito, Calif., Bianca Pulitzer of Los Angeles, and Elinor Pulitzer of Manhattan; and a son, Joseph Pulitzer V of Cincinnati.

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