The digital era is spurring rapid, radical changes to the way journalism is practiced and financed, but a few eternal verities have persisted through the disruption — good writing makes for good reading, reputations for accuracy take years to build and seconds to lose, and a man with the last name Sulzberger will always run the New York Times.
On Wednesday, the paper of record named Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger its deputy publisher. A.G. Sulzberger is the son and, now, the heir apparent to his father, Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. (whose father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, was the publisher before him).
A.G., 36, represents the fifth generation of his family to ascend to the paper’s top ranks, since Adolph Simon Ochs took the helm in 1896.
But that doesn’t mean Sulzberger’s appointment came as a result of nepotism. As New York’s Gabriel Sherman reported last year, the paper set up a meritocratic competition between A.G. and two of his cousins — 35-year-old Sam Dolnick and 39-year-old David Perch — to determine who was most qualified to assume the throne.
Still, Sulzberger was always the favorite, and not just because he was the closest blood relation to the sitting publisher in a competition limited to family members: Sulzberger led the team that drafted the 2014 Innovation Report, a document that outlined the challenges facing the paper in the digital age, and potential ways of trying to overcome them.
Previously, Sulzberger worked as a reporter on both the national and metro desks, eventually becoming an editor at the latter. He also has experience working with the business side of the paper on newsroom strategy.
Sulzberger’s father is now 65 — the same age at which his father bestowed on him the title of publisher. It’s not clear when the elder Sulzberger plans to pass the baton.
When A.G. takes the wheel as deputy publisher, he’ll be steering through turbulent water. The 2020 report on how the paper plans to survive in the digital age — and, relatedly, a downsizing of the newsroom — looms on the horizon.