At The New York Times, It’s All in the Family


When Arthur Sulzberger Jr. abruptly fired Jill Abramson last Wednesday, he was comfortably within the long-established culture of The New York Times. It is sometimes forgotten that his father, “Punch” Sulzberger, who was much beloved for his modesty and gentle humor, had summarily fired the company’s top non-family executive…twice!

The New York Times Company is a family business that has been not only owned by the Ochs/Sulzberger family for nearly 120 years, but throughout that time has had a family member at the helm. Senior executives on both the news and business sides of the company serve at the pleasure of that topmost family executive, and woe to those who don’t understand that.

When Punch assumed the top job in 1963, the senior non-family executive was Amory Bradford, a tall and intimidating man who had long bullied Punch and dismissed him as a hapless nitwit. Punch was, in fact, an…

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