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Publishing legend Arthur Ochs Sulzberger dies

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, well known for reshaping and expanding the New York Times Company, died on 29 September aged 86 after a long illness.
Publishing legend Arthur Ochs Sulzberger dies © Burk Uzzle, the New York Times

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, well known for reshaping and expanding the New York Times Company, died on 29 September aged 86 after a long illness.

Nicknamed Punch, Sulzberger headed the family business for more than three decades and spent his entire professional career working at the company, said a statement by his son and current chair, also named Arthur.

After serving in the US Marine Corps during both World War II and the Korean War, Sulzberger became a reporter at the group’s flagship newspaper, the New York Times.

When he took the company helm from his father in the 1960s, Sulzberger inherited a business whose main newspaper had a circulation of around 700,000 and overall revenues at the parent company were $100 million (€77.6 million).
 
By 1992, circulation had risen to more than one million, and the family-run group had revenues of $1.7 billion.
 
Growth aside, Sulzberger also made headlines in the 1970s when he decided to publish 7,000 pages of secret documents, obtained by the company, about the Vietnam War. Despite the then US president Richard Nixon suing the group to stop publication, the New York Times Company won the case in the Supreme Court.
 
“Punch, the old Marine captain who never backed down from a fight, was an absolutely fierce defender of the freedom of the press,” son Arthur said in the release.
 
Sulzberger also paved the way for a listing of the company on the New York stock exchange and led a number of purchases and acquisitions through the funds raised. The Ochs Sulzberger family retains strong control of the firm with the right to elect 70% of the company’s board.

During his tenure, journalists at the group’s flagship newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize, the highest accolade in American journalism, 31 times.

The business traces its roots to the end of the 19th century when Sulzberger’s father, Adolph, bought money-losing newspaper the New York Times. The company, which also owns newspapers such as the Boston Globe, had 2011 revenues of $2.3 billion.

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