Saturday, September 29, 2012

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, 1926-2012

I can't find the entry now, but a few days back Walter Russell Mead noted that for all its faults, the New York Times remains the country's best newspaper for serious news reporting. And as my readers know, while I often flail away angrily at the Times' horribly biased reporting, I keep returning each and every day to read all the news that's over there, arguably "all the news that's fit to print," in the words of the paper's longstanding slogan.

In any case, I guess this makes the news of the passing of Arthur Sulzberger a bit more interesting and sad.

The obituary is here, "Publisher Who Transformed The Times for New Era":
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who guided The New York Times and its parent company through a long, sometimes turbulent period of expansion and change on a scale not seen since the newspaper’s founding in 1851, died early Saturday at his home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 86.

His death, after a long illness, was announced by his family.

Mr. Sulzberger’s tenure, as publisher of the newspaper and as chairman and chief executive of The New York Times Company, reached across 34 years, from the heyday of postwar America to the twilight of the 20th century, from the era of hot lead and Linotype machines to the birth of the digital world.

The paper he took over as publisher in 1963 was the paper it had been for decades: respected and influential, often setting the national agenda. But it was also in precarious financial condition and somewhat insular, having been a tightly held family operation since 1896, when it was bought by his grandfather Adolph S. Ochs.

By the 1990s, when Mr. Sulzberger passed the reins to his son, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., first as publisher in 1992 and then as chairman in 1997, the enterprise had been transformed. The Times was now national in scope, distributed from coast to coast, and it had become the heart of a diversified, multibillion-dollar media operation that came to encompass newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations and online ventures.

The expansion reflected Mr. Sulzberger’s belief that a news organization, above all, had to be profitable if it hoped to maintain a vibrant, independent voice. As John F. Akers, a retired chairman of I.B.M. and for many years a Times Company board member, put it, “Making money so that you could continue to do good journalism was always a fundamental part of the thinking.”
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