Arthur Ochs Sulzberger

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (born 1926), long-time publisher of the New York Times, was involved in the transformation of this newspaper from a New York City enterprise into one of broad national influence.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger was born February 5, 1926, in the city of New York. He was the son of Arthur Hays Sulzberger, chairman of the board of the New York Times Company, and of Iphigene Bertha, née Ochs, through whom he was a descendant of Adolph Ochs, the founder of the New York Times. He was the youngest of four children and was affectionately called "Punch" by family and friends, having arrived after his sister Judy. His preparatory education took place in several schools because he suffered from hereditary dyslexia. He finally earned a diploma from the Loomis School in Windsor, Connecticut.

When only 17, in 1944 he joined the United States Marine Corps. The war in the Pacific was still raging, and as a corporal he was stationed first at Lehu and then at Luzon in the Philippines. His duties were those of a naval intercept radio operator. Shortly before the Japanese surrender he was attached to the staff of General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific, and accompanied the general to Japan for the surrender. He told his mother about his experiences in the corps: "Before I entered the Marines I was a lazy good-for-nothing; the Marines woke me up."

His war experiences did not end with World War II. When in 1951 the North Koreans, under Communist rule, invaded the non-Communist territory of South Korea, the United Nations came to the aid of South Korea and Sulzberger was called back into the Marine Corps. He had just graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University. Commissioned a second lieutenant, he was sent to Korea as an officer in the First Marine Division at Panmunjom, where he remained until a truce ended active combat and redrew the line dividing north and south. By the time his service came to an end in 1953 he had risen to the rank of captain, a rank that he held in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1963, the date of his resignation.

The year 1963 was an extremely important one in his life. Since his resumption of civilian status ten years earlier he had become a reporter for the New York Times, owned by his family. To broaden his experience he briefly joined the Milwaukee Journal as a cub reporter and served also at its news desk until he returned to the New York Times in 1954. He worked at the foreign news desk for three months and was subsequently sent to the London, Paris, and Rome offices of the Times as a correspondent. This was a brief experience, however, and in 1955 he returned to New York to become assistant to the publisher and in 1958 the assistant treasurer of the New York Times Company. Arthur Sulzberger had turned from news gathering to administration and financial responsibilities. This was evident in 1963 when he succeeded his brother-in-law, Orvil E. Dryfoos, who had just died of a heart attack, as president of the company. Although he was only 37 years old, his parents chose him over others because his forthright personality invited communication with the editors who helped make policy. He was now the publisher of the Times, and he became fully in charge after his father's death in December 1968.

As heir to a family business—one that subsequently became a public corporation—he assumed responsibility for management and sat as one of three trustees who collectively oversaw the interests of the company and of the stock holders and who supported the several editors in their policies to preserve the paper's traditions of objective reporting and freedom of editorial policy. Beginning in the late 1960s, however, the several great newspapers of New York City faced serious financial problems. As more and more readers moved from the city to the suburbs, the retail merchants who advertised in the Times moved out with them and took their advertising to smaller suburban papers. Both reader-ship and advertising fell off. The suburban press enjoyed lower costs of production. In order to compete the major city papers sought to reduce their work forces and to introduce more efficient printing technology. This led to a citywide strike of the work force in 1978. Some of the weaker journals went out of business; others, like the Times, survived and carried out policies to increase productivity. The Times remained one of the great newspapers of the world into the 1990s, also available on the World Wide Web at http://www.nytimes.com.

The New York Times Company, with Arthur Sulzberger at its head, also owned dozens of other enterprises, including 17 trade and consumer magazines, 32 regional newspapers, three publishing companies, five television stations and the Interstate Broadcasting Company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary operating a 17-station network in the Northeast. In 1992, the company started up its new facility in Edison, New Jersey. That same year, Sulzberger turned over his publishing responsibilities to his son, Arthur, Jr., but remained active as the company's chairman and chief executive officer. During Sulzberger's tenure as publisher, Times associates had won a total of 31 Pulitzer Prizes.

Apart from his business activities, Sulzberger was a public-minded citizen who was directly involved in civic activities. At Columbia University, his alma mater, he was the senior trustee and one of two remaining life trustees in 1985. He served on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was also a visiting trustee for the Department of Arms and Armor, for which he served as fund raiser. He was chairman of the board of the Fresh Air Fund, an organization devoted to sending underprivileged children to the country during the summer to enjoy the fun of camping. This organization was "under the wing" of the New York Times, which gave it editorial support. At various times Sulzberger was also active as director or board member of the American Arbitration Association, the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greater New York Safety Council, the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts, the New York University Center for Safety Education, and the New York World's Fair of 1964-1965. He received an honorary LL.D. degree from Dartmouth College in 1964. In connection with his journalism he belonged to the New York City Newspaper Reporter Association, the Overseas Press Club, and Sigma Delta Chi, the newspapermen's fraternity.

In his private life Sulzberger was married twice, first on July 2, 1948, to Barbara Grant. They had two children: Arthur Ochs, Jr., and Karen Alden. After his divorce in 1956 he married Carol Furman, née Fox, former wife of Seymour Furman. He formally adopted her daughter by the previous marriage, Cathy Jean, and in 1964 they produced another daughter, Cynthia. Sulzberger was a member of Temple Emanu-El in New York City. One of his hobbies was golf, and he belonged to the Century Country Club of White Plains, New York. However, his favorite hobby was fishing. To him, nothing was more exciting and fun than a few days on a salmon river.

Further Reading on Arthur Ochs Sulzberger

There are no books on Arthur O. Sulzberger. There is pertinent information in the memoirs of his mother, Iphigene: Memoirs of Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger (1979). Useful data about the New York Times and the Times Company can be found in Martin Walker, Powers of the Press (1982), and Anthony Smith, Goodbye Gutenberg, the Newspaper Revolution of the 1980's (1980).

For more recent profiles of Sulzberger and his family, see Joseph Nocera's article, Family Plot in GQ: Gentlemens Quarterly (1994).

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