New York Times Case Study
Since 1896, four generations of the Ochs-Sulzberger family have guided The New York Times through wars, recessions, strikes, and innumerable family crises. In 2003, though, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the current proprietor, faced what seemed to be a publisher's ultimate test after a loosely supervised young reporter named Jayson Blair was found to have fabricated dozens of stories. The revelations sparked a newsroom rebellion that humiliated Sulzberger into firing Executive Editor Howell Raines. "My heart is breaking," Sulzberger admitted to his staff on the day he showed Raines the door.
It turns out, though, that fate was not finished with Arthur Sulzberger, who also is chairman of the newspaper's corporate …show more content…
"I tell you, I hate to think of it not succeeding," he says.
The constancy of their commitment to high-cost journalism has put the Sulzbergers in an increasingly contrarian position. Many of the country's surviving big-city dailies once were owned by similarly high-minded dynastic families that long ago surrendered control to big public corporations that prize earnings per share above all else. Editorial budgets at most newspapers, as well as TV and radio stations, have been squeezed so hard for so long that asphyxiation is a mounting risk. The proliferation of Web sites and cable-TV stations has produced an abundance of commentary and analysis, but the kind of thorough, original reporting in which the Times specializes is, if anything, increasingly scarce.
In effect, the Sulzbergers have subsidized the Times in valuing good journalism and the prestige it confers over profits and the wealth it creates. In fact, for much of its history, the Times barely broke even. Recasting the paper into a publicly held corporation capable of pursuing profit as determinedly as Times editors chase Pulitzers was the signal achievement of Arthur Jr.'s father, Arthur O. "Punch" Sulzberger Sr. Still, NYT Co. consistently fails to post the 25% profit margins of such big newspaper combines as Gannett Co. (GCI) and Knight-Ridder Inc. (KRI) mainly