Extra! Extra! Read all about it! For years, that was the cry of the newsboy, hawking his wares in the streets of towns and cities all across the country. In the days before radio and television, the newspaper, whether daily or weekly, was the main source of information for the vast majority of people. Those who lived in out-of-the-way small towns might have to wait longer for their papers than those in larger cities, but, sooner or later, newspapers came to be found in just about place imaginable.
“All the news that's fit to print” has been printed on the upper-left-hand corner of the front page of every edition of The New York Times since February of 1897. That slogan was created by Adolph Ochs, then owner of the paper, and the founder of the remarkable newspaper dynasty chronicled in The Trust, the book under consideration this month. Subtitled The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times, The Trust tells an amazing story of the extended family that has come to dominate the world of newsprint in a way that has never been equaled.
“Adolph didn't disappoint the plutocrats who had supported his quest to acquire The New-York Times. When 110,000 businessmen staged a sound-money parade through the streets of Manhattan four days before the election, he was at the head of the newspaper's fifty-man delegation, marching as a “private” rather than riding in the carriage to which his position entitled him. Although it was raining, and the silk banners bearing the words
THE NEW-YORK TIMES were soon soaked and drooping, Adolph took heart from the men, women, and children who lined the route and yelled “All the news that's fit to print,” and “Hurrah for The New-York Times!” He was a superstitious man, ever mindful of auguries, and it did not escape his notice that this stirring affirmation of his efforts had taken place on the eighth anniversary of his father's death. That night he lit a yahrzeit candle in memory of Julius and the following Friday said Kaddish during services at the Fifth Avenue Temple.”
A member of the fourth generation of Adolph Ochs' family, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., is the current publisher of the paper known as the “Good Gray Lady.” The paper has continued for more than a century under the ownership and leadership of the Ochs-Sulzberger family, winning more Pulitzers prizes than any other newspaper in history.
“Arthur Jr. must reinvent the Times just as his great-grandfather did in 1896, using the same tools: a talent for leadership, an idealistic vision leavened by rigorous pragmatism, and the nerves of a gambler. He is bolstered by a family that has willingly sacrificed wealth and personal ambition for the sake of the institution that is both their obligation and their glory. Now, his task is to preserve the Times, and all it represents, and pass it along to yet another generation. It is the job, one might say, he was born for.” Be sure to read all about it.
Copyright © 2004, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.