The New York Times

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The September 11, 2002 front page of The New York Times.
The September 11, 2002 front page of The New York Times.
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owners The New York Times Company
Founded 1851
Political position      neutral
Headquarters New York,
United States of America
Editor-in-chief Bill Keller

The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City by Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. It is owned by The New York Times Company, which also publishes some 40 other newspapers including International Herald Tribune and The Boston Globe. The newspaper is nicknamed the "Gray Lady" and is often considered the newspaper of record in the United States.



The New York Times' main offices at 229 West 43rd Street in New York City.
The New York Times' main offices at 229 West 43rd Street in New York City.

The New York Times was founded on September 18, 1851 by Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones. Raymond was also a founding director of the Associated Press in 1856. Adolph Ochs acquired the Times in 1896, and under his guidance the newspaper achieved an international scope, circulation, and reputation. In 1897 he coined the paper's slogan "All The News That's Fit To Print," widely interpreted as a jab at competing papers in New York (the New York World and the New York Journal American) that were known for yellow journalism. After relocating the paper's headquarters to a new tower on 42nd Street, the area was named Times Square in 1904. Nine years later, the Times opened an annex at 229 43rd Street, their current headquarters, later selling Times Tower in 1961.

The Times was originally intended to publish every morning except on Sundays; however, during the Civil War the Times started publishing Sunday issues along with other major dailies. It won its first Pulitzer Prize for news reports and articles about World War I in 1918. In 1919 it made its first trans-atlantic delivery to London.

The crossword began to appear in 1942 as a feature. It bought the classical station WQXR in 1942. The fashions section started in 1946. The Times also started an international edition in 1946, but stopped publishing it in 1967 and joined with the owners of the New York Herald Tribune and The Washington Post to publish the International Herald Tribune in Paris. The Op-Ed section started appearing in 1970. More recently, in 1996 The New York Times went online, giving access to readers all over the world on the Web at A new headquarters for the newspaper, a skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano, is currently under construction at 41st Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.

In 1964, the paper was the defendant in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which established the actual malice legal test for libel.

Times today

Today The New York Times is probably the most prominent American daily newspaper, sometimes being referred to as America's "newspaper of record". It has traditionally printed full transcripts of major speeches and debates. The newspaper is currently owned by The New York Times Company, in which descendants of Ochs, principally the Sulzberger family, maintain a dominant role.

The Times has won 90 Pulitzer Prizes--the most prestigious award for journalism in the US, presented each year by Columbia University--including a record 7 in 2002. In 1971 it broke the Pentagon Papers story, publishing leaked documents revealing that the U.S. government had been painting an unrealistically rosy picture of the progress of the Vietnam War. This led to New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), which declared the government's prior restraint of the classified documents was unconstitutional. In 1972, the Times exposed the Tuskegee experiment, in which African Americans suffering from syphilis were surreptitiously denied treatment over a period of decades. More recently, in 2004 the Times won a Pulitzer award for a series written by David Barstow and Lowell Bergman on employers and workplace safety issues.

The Times has been going through a downsizing, for several years, laying off workers and cutting expenses [1], in common with a general trend among print newsmedia.

The Times is based in New York City. It has 16 news bureaus in the New York region, 11 national news bureaus and 26 foreign news bureaus.[2] For the year ending Dec. 26, 2004, the reported circulation data for The New York Times were: 1,124,700 Weekday[3] and 1,669,700 Sunday[4].

Major sections

The newspaper is organized in three sections:

1. News 
Includes International, National, Washington, Business, Technology, Science, Health, Sports, New York Region, Education, Weather, Obituaries, and Corrections.
2. Opinion 
Includes Editorials, Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor.
3. Features 
Includes Arts, Books, Movies, Theater, Travel, NYC Guide, Dining & Wine, Home & Garden, Fashion & Style, Crossword/Games, Cartoons, Magazine, and Week in Review


Stylistically, the newspaper is quite conservative (see also: The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage). When referring to people, it uses titles, rather than unadorned last names (except among the sports pages, in which last names stand alone). Its headlines tend to be verbose, and, for major stories, come with subheadings giving further details, although it is moving away from this style. It stayed with an 8-column format years after other papers had switched to 6, and it was one of the last newspapers to adopt color photography. In the absence of a major headline, the day's most important story generally appears in the top-righthand column.

Famous mistakes

In 1920, a New York Times editorial ridiculed Robert Goddard and his claim that a rocket would work in space:

That Professor Goddard, with his "chair" in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react--to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.

In 1969, days before Apollo 11's landing on the moon, the newspaper published a tongue-in-cheek correction:

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century, and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error. [6]

On several occasions the New York Times has erroneously published premature obituaries:

More seriously, some have charged that the New York Times downplayed evidence that the Third Reich had targeted Jews for genocide, at least in part because the publisher feared the taint of taking on any 'Jewish cause'.

Allegations of bias

Too liberal

Some readers believe that the Times' hard news and soft news reportage have a consistent and pronounced liberal slant, particularly on social issues. Among other things, the intermix of political commentary with art criticism in the Arts section of the paper is pointed to as evidence of bias. For example, A. O. Scott's film reviews sometimes contain barbs directed at social conservatives, and Frank Rich's Arts columns regularly attacked conservatives.

The op-ed section, the Times' regular columnists — who operate largely independently of the rest of the paper, and are subject to relatively little editorial oversight — have a mixed range of political orientations. However, some claim that this mix is unbalanced, and that this imbalance demonstrates a liberal bias at the newspaper. The 2005 roster of regular columnists ranges in political position from Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert on the left, to Nicholas Kristof in the center-left, to Thomas Friedman in the center, to David Brooks, formerly of The Weekly Standard magazine, and John Tierney on the right. However, attempts to place these columnists' positions on a one-dimensional American political spectrum do not completely characterize their actions or views. For example, Dowd strongly criticized President Clinton; Krugman (a professional economist) spoke as an economic centrist before he began criticizing the George W. Bush administration; and libertarian-conservative former columnist William Safire criticized the Patriot Act.

Riccardo Puglisi from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has written a paper about the editorial choices of the New York Times from 1946 to 1994, entitled, "Being the New York Times: The Political Behaviour of a Newspaper" (December 6, 2004). [7] [8]. He finds that the Times displays Democratic partisanship, with some watchdog aspects. For example, during presidential campaigns, the paper systematically gives more coverage to Democratic topics, but only so when the incumbent president is a Republican.

Additionally, The New York Times editorial page has not endorsed a Republican Party candidate for president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.

Too conservative

Conversely, many liberals and progressives have professed a belief that the Times' hard reporting of foreign policy issues tends to be biased towards conservative views. In the film Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, Noam Chomsky's allegations of the paper's deliberate downplaying of Indonesia's brutal invasion and occupation of East Timor are extensively illustrated as an example of this.

Some liberals also believe that the Times' reporting of economic policy issues tends to be biased towards upper-middle class or upper-class concerns over the concerns of the poor or working-class.

Distinctions between news, comment, ads

On November 25, 2002, the Times ran a front-page story with the headline, "CBS Staying Silent in Debate on Women Joining Augusta" — part of a string of stories focusing on the Augusta National Golf Club, the host of the Masters Tournament, effectively demanding a boycott. Critics complained that this was an editorial usurping news space. Mickey Kaus wrote that the editor-in-chief, Howell Raines, was "on the verge of a breakthrough reconceptualization of 'news' here, in which 'news' comes to mean the failure of any powerful individual or institution to do what Howell Raines wants them to do."

The Times has also been criticized for allowing Exxon-Mobil Corporation to run a regular paid "advertorial" commentary piece on its editorial page, although the practice is common in other U.S. newspapers. Some studies have shown that the Times selection of op-ed pieces and letters to the editor seem to "bracket" their editorial position, making the editorials appear to be moderate — although again this practice is hardly unique to the Times.

Times self-examination of bias

In summer 2004, the Times' public editor (ombudsman), Daniel Okrent, wrote a piece on the Times' alleged liberal bias. He concluded that the Times did have a liberal bias in coverage of certain social issues, gay marriage being the example he used. He claimed that this bias reflected the paper's cosmopolitanism, which arose naturally from its roots as a hometown paper of New York City.

Okrent did not comment at length on the issue of bias in coverage of "hard news", such as fiscal policy, foreign policy, or civil liberties. However, he noted that the paper's coverage of the Iraq war was, among other things, insufficiently critical of the George W. Bush administration (see below). (In May 2005 Okrent was succeeded by Byron Calame.)

Recent controversies

In 2003, the Times admitted to journalism fraud committed over a span of several years by one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, and the general professionalism of the paper was questioned, though Blair immediately resigned following the incident. Questions of affirmative action in journalism were also raised, since Blair was African American. The paper's top two editors -- Howell Raines, the executive editor, and Gerald Boyd, managing editor --resigned their posts following the incident.

Since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Times has persistently referred to "insurgents" rather than "terrorists" being responsible for the bombing and other acts of violence. This has been aggressively criticized, such as by frequent Times contributor Christopher Hitchens, as carrying a connotation of justification; Times columnist Thomas Friedman refers to them as "terrorists" or "Islamo-fascists".

In April, 2004 the Times reversed its policy of not using the term Armenian Genocide. Despite publishing dozens of articles about the Armenian Genocide as it progressed, the Times for a period shied away from using the term in its articles as part of its editorial policy. The Turkish Government still actively denies a genocide occurred. Incidentally, Times columnist and former reporter Nicolas Kristof, a Pulitzer prize winner, has mentioned being of Armenian descent and has criticized the ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government, in his Times column.

On May 26, 2004, the Times published another significant admission of journalistic failings, admitting that its flawed reporting during the buildup to war with Iraq helped promote the misleading belief that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. [9] While this "From the Editors" piece didn't mention names, a large part of the incriminated articles had been written by Times reporter Judith Miller.

A second self-criticism by Okrent went further. "The failure was not individual, but institutional," he wrote. "War requires an extra standard of care, not a lesser one. But in the Times's WMD coverage, readers encountered some rather breathless stories built on unsubstantiated 'revelations' that, in many instances, were the anonymity-cloaked assertions of people with vested interests. Times reporters broke many stories before and after the war - but when the stories themselves later broke apart, in many instances Times readers never found out. ... Other stories pushed Pentagon assertions so aggressively you could almost sense epaulets sprouting on the shoulders of editors. ... The aggressive journalism that I long for, and that the paper owes both its readers and its own self-respect, would reveal not just the tactics of those who promoted the WMD stories, but how the Times itself was used to further their cunning campaign." [10]

In August 2005, the Times was accused of attempting to unseal the adoption records of Supreme Court nominee Justice John Roberts's children, an unprecendented investigation by a newspaper. Conservative journalist Brit Hume, of Fox News reported that the Times has been asking lawyers that specialize in adoption cases for advice on how to get into the sealed court records. The report went on, "Sources familiar with the matter tell Fox News that at least one lawyer turned the Times down flat, saying that any effort to pry into adoption case records, which are always sealed, would be reprehensible." The Times admitted, "Our reporters made initial inquiries about the adoptions." However they also claimed, "They did so with great care, understanding the sensitivity of the issue." The Times was condemned by the National Council for Adoption, “NCFA denounces, in the strongest possible terms, the shocking decision of The New York Times to investigate the adoption records of Justice John Roberts’ two young children. The adoption community is outraged that, for obviously political reasons, the Times has targeted the very private circumstances, motivations, and processes by which the Roberts became parents." [11]

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, The Times has referred to those displaced by the hurricane as "refugees", while most news media refer to them as "evacuees". The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines "refugees" as those who have crossed a national border to escape unbearable conditions at home, while those who have been driven from home within their own nation are referred to as "internally displaced persons" (or "IDP's"). The The American Heritage Dictionary, however, defines refugee as "one who flees in search of refuge."

In October 2005, Judith Miller was released from prison after an 85-day stay, when she agreed to testify to Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury. She said she finally relented only after receiving a personal waiver, both on the phone and in writing, of her earlier confidential source agreement with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, although Libby's lawyer claimed the offer of a waiver had been standing for a year. After Miller's appearance before the grand jury, she was released from her contempt of court finding, after which the New York Times became free to write their own account of the affair. This account [12] was published on October 16, along with a personal account by Miller [13]. However, these accounts were widely criticized as revealing even more flaws and failings of both Miller and the Times than they answered, including uncooperativeness and dissembling by Miller to the Times and a lack of reasonable oversight of Miller’s work by the Times, as summarized for example in the Washington Post [14]. This included several predictions and calls for Miller to be fired, including by Alex Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University (and a former New York Times reporter); Jay Rosen, journalism professor at New York University; and Editor and Publisher columnist Greg Mitchell. Mitchell said Miller was guilty of “crimes against journalism” and “did far more damage to her newspaper than did Jayson Blair, and that’s not even counting her WMD reporting, which hurt and embarrassed the paper in other ways.” [15].

Management and Employees


Executive editors

Current columnists

See also

Further reading

  • Alex S. Jones, Susan E. Tifft. The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times. Back Bay Books (2000), ISBN 0316836311.
  • Hess, John. My Times: A Memoir of Dissent, Seven Stories Press (2003), cloth, ISBN 1583226044; trade paperback, Seven Stories Press (2003), ISBN 1583226222
  • Talese, Gay. The Kingdom and the Power, World Publishing Company, New York, Cleveland (1969), ISBN 0844662844.
  • Leff, Laurel. Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Famous Newspaper, Cambridge University Press (2005), cloth, ISBN 100521812879.
  • Mnookin, Seth. Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media, Random House (2004), cloth, ISBN 1400062446.
  • Campomenosi, Louis Joseph, III. New York Times Editorial Coverage of the American Involvement in Vietnam, 1945-1965: A Case Study to Test the Huntington Thesis of the Existence of an Oppositional Press in the United States.. Tulane University (1994)
  • The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, revised edition. Allan M. Siegal and William G. Connolly. New York: Times Books, 1999. ISBN 0812963881. Self-indexed.

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