The writer Joseph Epstein has written a short essay on why he has canceled his subscription to The New York Times. I’m surprised it took him this long. Maybe it’s because he’s from Chicago and didn’t grow up reading the paper. I’m from Brooklyn and can remember when the paper was at the acme of journalism, cost a nickel, and was dignified and dull. I stopped reading it years ago because it had become witless.
You can read for yourself the reasons Mr Epstein has offered for his rejection of the paper. What he didn’t provide was a reason for the Times’ decline to irrelevance. I touched on this peripherally a while back. But I didn’t really give the exact reason. The explanation is simple; it’s nepotism and inbreeding. The New York Times achieved its reputation, now squandered, under the leadership of Adolph Ochs (March 12, 1858–April 8, 1935). He passed direction of the paper to his son-in-law Arthur Hays Sulzberger (September 12, 1891 – December 11, 1968). Orvil Eugene Dryfoos (November 8, 1912 – May 25, 1963), Sulzberger’s son-in-law, was publisher for two years. He was succeeded by Sulzberger’s son and Och’s grandson Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Sr (born February 5, 1926). The current publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. (born September 22, 1951) is Och’s great grandson. The blood has gotten pretty thin and tired by now.
Can anyone believe that Sulzberger the Youngest would have been appointed publisher of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal on the basis of merit, much less The New York Times? Prince Charles, well known as a world class booby, would likely run the paper better than junior. If hereditary succession is your preference pick a prince. It’s hard to keep a business going for four generations. If it’s a newspaper business, it’s almost impossible. If you keep a newspaper in the family, it is impossible. Thus it’s Adios, Gray Lady in more than one way.