Legendary New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Sr. is dead at age 86. Mr. Sulzberger took over the paper of record in 1963 and led the paper to great success for over three decades, when he passed the paper onto his son in 1997 (he handed of the title of Publisher in 1992, but held on to the title of Chairman and Chief Executive until 1997). The Grey Lady was originally bought by his grandfather, the famed Adolph Ochs in 1896.
He defended the paper staying in the family by joking, “My conclusion is simple. Nepotism works.”
Sulzburger’s tenure with the paper was marked by incredible success, both economic and journalistic. When he took over, the New York Times was struggling financially and he turned it into a multi-billion dollar empire. Revenues climbed from $100 million in 1963 to $1.7 billion when he stepped down. While he was changing their economic fortunes, the paper won 31 Pulitzer prizes under his leadership.
One of his greatest successes was the publishing of the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon Papers were a complete history of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 as put together by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. The papers revealed that the war in Vietnam was deliberately expanded despite President Johnson’s public protestations otherwise at the time. They also show that the US bombed Cambodia and Laos, which had previously been unreported in the US.
This was on of the largest journalistic bombshells in history.
Sulzburger also served in the Marines in World War II and the Korean war. Of his service he joked, “My family didn’t worry about me for a minute. They knew that if I got shot in the head it wouldn’t do any harm.”
He died at his home in Southampton, N.Y., after a long illness.