Former New York Times publisher Artur Ochs Sulzberger, who guided the paper through a turbulent time to new levels of expansion, influence and profit, died Saturday at the age of 86 at his home in South Hampton, NY after a long illness.
Sulzberger served as publisher of The NY Times from 1963-1992. He was also served as chairman and chief executive of the newspaper from 1963-1997, CNN reports.
When Sulzberger became publisher in 1963, the New York Times was a well respected and influential paper, but it was also going through financial turmoil and uncertainty, The NY Times reports. The newspaper was a tight family operation since it was bought by Sulzberger's grandfather, Adolph S. Ochs, in 1896.
Sulzberger served with the Marine Corps during World War II and Korea before joining the paper as a reporter, The AP reports.
The newspaper won 31 Pulitzer prizes and published the Pentagon Papers under Sulzberger's tutelage. The Times was also victorious The New York Times vs. Sullivan case. The case established "important First Amendment protections for the press," The AP reports.
In 1992, Sulzberger passed the reins onto his first son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr, as publisher, and later as chairman. By now, the newspaper had been transformed, The NY Times reports. The Times was now being distributed coast to coast, and was the heart of a multi-billion dollar entity that included newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and online ventures.
"Punch (Sulzberger's nickname), the old marine who never backed down from a fight, was an absolute fierce defender of the freedom of the press," his son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr, said in a statement, The AP reports.
Sulzberger Jr's father believed in the importance of his and all news organizations having a "vibrant, independent" voice, and he realized in order to maintain this voice, he had to keep the New York Times profitable and strong.
"Punch" remained on the board of directors of The Times until retiring in 2001, CNN reports.
"Punch will be sorely missed by his family and many friends, but we can take some comfort in the fact that his legacy and his abiding belief of quality news and information will always be with us, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr wrote about his father.
When Arthur Ochs Sulzberger left the paper as chairman in 1997, he was confident it, along with other "good" newspapers, had a bright future.
"I think that paper and ink are here to stay for the kind of papers we print," he said in an interview after retiring, The New York Times reports. "There's no shortage of news in the world. If you want news, you can go to cyberspace and grab out all this junk. But I don't think most people are competent to become editors or have the time and interest."
"You're not buying news when you buy The New York Times,"Sulzberger said. "You're buying judgment."