The New York Times Company (NYTC) is the media conglomerate that owns The New York Times. It also owns the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune (IHT), and 16 other newspapers, most of which are based in the Southeastern United States and California. It owns two New York City radio stations, eight network affiliate television stations in various cities, and 50 percent of the cable satellite television DiscoveryTimes Channel. The company is part owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team and the New England Sports Network (NESN) through New England Sports Ventures LLC. It also owns a minority share of two companies in the paper-manufacturing business. Moreover, NYTC owns and operates more than 40 websites associated with the above entities.
NYTC’s Class A stock currently trades on the New York Stock Exchange, but the company is ultimately commanded through preferred Class B “voting” stock — 91 percent of which is controlled by Sulzberger family members. Since 1997 the company’s Board Chairman has been Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., known as “Pinch,” who succeeded his father as Publisher of The New York Times.
Founded in 1851, the Times promptly went nationwide, launching a California edition for wealthy 49er Gold Rush readers. But this edition, which traveled by mail boat around Cape Horn, soon died with the rise of California newspapers.
In October 1884 The New York Times, according to the company’s official timeline, “cas[t] off its reputation as a Republican newspaper when it endorse[d] Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, for president.”
In August 1896 Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of The Chattanooga Times, bought controlling ownership of the Times for $75,000. Ochs installed himself as publisher of the 9,000-circulation newspaper that had been losing the then-astounding sum of $1,000 per day. That October he coined the Times slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print.
Times readership and advertising revenues continued to grow because of Ochs’ shrewd circulation-boosting ideas. In 1898 he boldly cut the daily paper’s price to a penny. In 1909 he helped sponsor Robert Peary’s race to the North Pole and got exclusive reports in return. In 1910 he sponsored a daredevil flight by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtis, and in 1927 got exclusive rights to Charles Lindbergh’s first-person story of his New York-to-Paris flight.
In 1935 Ochs died, and his son-in-law Arthur Hays Sulzberger became Publisher of the Times. Sulzberger was the grandfather of today’s publisher and company Chairman. From 1935 until the modern era ushered in by Republican President Ronald Reagan and the collapse of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, the Times grew into a left-leaning, pro-Democrat newspaper. This ideological commitment has solidified under the tenure of the current publisher, who has spoken extensively about the need for “diversity in the newsroom.”
In practice, this commitment led to the Jayson Blair fiasco in which Editor Howell Raines promoted Blair, a young black reporter, because of his race rather than his competence. When it was revealed in 2003 that Blair had fabulated a series of “news” stories, the resulting scandal led to the resignation of both men. In its extensive and tortured self-inquiry into the matter, the Times never honestly explored the connection between its internal racial politics and its growing leftwing bias and the worst crisis it had experienced in its 150 years of publishing. (In a Rasmussen poll done during the Blair affair, less than half of Americans — a mere 46 percent — regarded information reported in The New York Times as “reliable and trustworthy.”) The paper’s leftward tilt is still visible in its news coverage—prominent reports on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal for nearly two months, far longer than any other national newspaper—and an op ed page dominated by leftists such as David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, Thomas L. Friedman, Bob Herbert, Nicholas D. Kristof, Paul Krugman, and Frank Rich.
Among the other challenges facing The New York Times Company are these: its income is falling, down to an estimated $290 million in 2004 from the $445 million it netted in 2001. The company has tried to diversify, but its chief asset remains The New York Times, which with its adjunct outlets accounts for 59.8 percent of total company revenues, which in 2003 were $3.2 billion. The Times is in trouble on its home turf, losing 96,000 readers in the New York City area in recent years.
In 2002 Sulzberger struck a deal with the French newspaper LeMonde to insert an eight-page English-language Times supplement into each Saturday’s edition. He subsequently made similar deals with a chain of Mexican newspapers and with newspapers in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Denmark and India. As Stanley Kurtz reported, this is part of a long-term plan that Sulzberger and Times chief executive Russell Lewis developed to target “the political-cultural elite (what they call ‘the knowledge audience’) throughout the world.”
In 2003 Sulzberger led the New York Times Company to spend $100 million to purchase a 50 percent share of what had been the cable channel Discovery Civilization, which he promptly re-named the DiscoveryTimes Channel. This station devotes an inordinate amount of its airtime to programs depicting the U.S. as overly militarized and in social crisis. Sulzberger has also invested heavily in television news production, creating documentaries aired by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) programs Frontline and Nova.