The New York Times announced the death of Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger, chairman and chief executive of the company for 34 years, via Twitter at 10:12 on Saturday morning, and linked to a sprawling 7,741-word obituary by Clyde Haberman that has received almost 400 retweets and was featured on the front page of the Sunday edition.
The obituary praised Sulzberger’s hands-off editorial approach and his aggressive business strategies, which included closing both the Western and International editions and listing the New York Times Company on the American stock exchange in 1969. Poynter later reported the process behind Haberman’s piece, which involved multiple interviews with Sulzberger from 1998 onwards.
Others paid tribute to Sulzberger in his own words. Arianna Huffington was among the many who tweeted:
“You’re not buying news when you buy The New York Times…You’re buying judgment.” RIP Arthur Ochs Sulzberger nyti.ms/PzDjw2— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) September 29, 2012
Scott Rosenberg of Salon and Grist tweeted:
Today I Learned: Punch Sulzberger signed fake letters to NYT “A. Sock.” (Play on his nickname.) Proto-sockpuppetry! nytimes.com/2012/09/30/nyr— Scott Rosenberg (@scottros) September 30, 2012
Two more personal Times obituaries have since appeared on the op-ed page that Sulzberger invented, from former Times executive editor Max Frankel and former managing editor Arthur Gelb. The New Yorker compiled a list of longreads about the Sulzberger family that have appeared in the magazine over the years. Michael Wolff, writing in the Guardian mourned the return of ego to the newsroom when Sulzberger’s son, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. became chairman in 1997.
Time praised Sulzberger’s stand for “journalistic independence” with the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. New York Daily News publisher and chairman Mortimer B. Zuckerman described Sulzberger as a “giant”.
President Obama released a statement offering his condolences to the family, and it was quoted in an AP roundup of tributes by notable figures including New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayor Ed Koch.