As Sulzberger fights to preserve America’s last newspaper dynasty, he seems to be placing a greater value on having a team player handle the print legacy, one that will keep the peace, keep up standards, and avoid creating distractions while he focuses on the horizon. The company has spent the past several years stripping down and jettisoning assets deemed superfluous to its new identity—often at a substantial financial loss. Now Sulzberger’s stewardship approaches the critical passage. He will either successfully complete the company’s transformation into digital media or preside as his family joins the Grahams, the Chandlers, the Bancrofts, and other ink-and-paper relics in the archives. However disruptive the fallout surrounding Abramson’s dismissal grows, it’s small brew compared to the task ahead. And in the end, who would argue that Sulzberger isn’t entitled to pick his own crew for this last leg of the journey?

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Douglas McCollam is a contributing editor to CJR.