The New York Times Company announced on Wednesday that Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. will retire as the chairman and as an active member of its board of directors on Dec. 31. He will be succeeded by his son, A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher.
Mr. Sulzberger, 69, served as publisher of The Times, overseeing all its editorial and business functions, from 1992 to 2017. He became chairman in 1997 and will assume the title of chairman emeritus.
His retirement completes a changing of the guard at the company, coming weeks after Meredith Kopit Levien, previously the chief operating officer, replaced Mark Thompson as the chief executive officer and president. Mr. Thompson, who held the chief executive job for eight years, was appointed to that role by the elder Mr. Sulzberger.
“Serving this essential institution and working alongside so many gifted journalists over the years has been the privilege of my life,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “There’s an old saying, ‘Laurels are nice to wear, but never to rest upon.’ I know A.G. will not rest in his drive to empower our journalists and expand the scope of The Times’s ambitions. And with a dynamic new C.E.O. and the best executive editor in the business, I depart knowing the best is yet to come.”
The Times has been run by the Ochs-Sulzberger family since 1896, when its patriarch, Adolph S. Ochs, bought the paper in a bankruptcy sale. Arthur Sulzberger was the fifth publisher in its history.
He became publisher when George H.W. Bush was president and Max Frankel was the newspaper’s executive editor. To prepare for the role, he served in a variety of jobs at The Times, including as a correspondent in Washington and the night production manager overseeing the newspaper’s printing presses at its former location on West 43rd Street.
With Mr. Sulzberger in control, The Times weathered not only the rocky early days of its digital transformation, but an economic recession that claimed dozens of newspapers nationwide.
Brian McAndrews, the presiding director of The Times Company board, said, “Arthur provided the leadership that has helped this company navigate the vast and varied challenges it has faced over the past four decades. He was unafraid to take risks and make big bets — from taking The Times global to introducing the digital pay model — and he did it all while never veering from his commitment to continual investment in Times journalism in order to keep it strong and independent. The success the company is enjoying today is a direct result of Arthur’s leadership over 40 years.”
The Times won 61 Pulitzer Prizes during Mr. Sulzberger’s time as publisher. In 1996, he moved The Times to the internet. In 2011, he instituted a pay wall that was seen as a risk but has since become the centerpiece of the company’s business.
When he left as publisher, The Times had 3.5 million subscribers, 2.5 million of them digital-only. Since A.G. Sulzberger took over as publisher, the growth in subscriptions has accelerated. The paper now has 6.5 million total subscribers, a figure that includes 5.7 million digital-only subscriptions. This year, for the first time, The Times Company earned more from its digital products than the print newspaper in a quarter.
“As publisher and chairman, Arthur brought more change to The Times than anyone since Adolph Ochs,” A.G. Sulzberger said. “His tenure stretched from the first front-page color photo to experiments in augmented reality, from the heyday of print advertising to digital revenue eclipsing print.
“Through it all, he provided a steady hand, sound judgment and an unwavering commitment to independence. Our success today is directly attributable to his singular focus on the long term, his embrace of innovation and his sustained investment in quality, original journalism. I am excited to build on Arthur’s remarkable legacy.”
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