The Inheritance

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mark Bowden, contributing editor at Vanity Fair, examines the nexus of dynasty and fourth-generation politics in New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr’s struggle to keep his family’s prized asset alive. His article, "The Inheritance", is in the May issue of Vanity Fair.


Mark Bowden

Comments [22]

William from Manhattan

The Times could learn a lot from WNYC. Have you thought about reaching out to them - doing a little pro bono consultation?

You guys are true champions of journalism. Without your courage and vision, 93.9 could well be owned by Clear Channel today. When Mayor Guiliani wanted to put the station on the block, you turned to your listeners and other stakeholders and built a vital community to save the bandwidth for art, truth and the American Way.

Arthur Sulzberger and his management team may have enough sense to listen to you. They could also talk to WFMU's Ken Freedman, and someone from the UK's Guardian. All of you know so much about community building, and have the spirit to help this rare institution get back on its feet.

Apr. 15 2009 05:53 PM
Kevin from Union City, NJ

colonel (kʉr′nəl).... where did the r come from???

Apr. 15 2009 01:44 PM

this is one of the worst interviews I have ever heard! why doesn't leonard ask him what evidence he has that the nyt will go under anytime soon i.e. own't survive the recession. does it occur to leonard that Bowden might just want to sell magazines??

isn't this the same asshole who predicted in january that the paper would go under in may?

Apr. 15 2009 12:42 PM
Chicago Listener

The Chicago Tribune has shuttered nearly all of its foreign bureaus. What is the likelihood that the NYT wil do the same?

Apr. 15 2009 12:41 PM

I'd love to see a Times reality show. From reportin to business to the street. It's sure to increase ad revenue.

Apr. 15 2009 12:39 PM
markBrown from

One interesting point that Mr. Bowden stated is:

using the concept of "you can't use our news..."
(and using micropayments/subscriptions)

will not work..

This is similar to the "walled gardens" of cable tv and AOL's beginning..

This failed.

Information wants to be free.

If I could get a NY times subscription with live auto-updates on a kindle,

I would immediately buy both

Apr. 15 2009 12:38 PM
Peter Ferko from Manhattan

The last comments point out a bizarre fact: no one is willing to pay for anything anymore. Digital information is taken to be an entitlement, whether it is news, art, or entertainment. Isn't this an unsustainable cultural mindset?

Apr. 15 2009 12:37 PM

What about Vanity Fair? I am able to access your article without paying for it. I can do this for the New Yorker as well. Are Magazines to follow?

Apr. 15 2009 12:33 PM
Matthew from Astoria

QUESTION FOR LEONARD AND MR. BOWDEN: I've read more than once that the NY Times website earns enough income to support the newsroom. Is that not the case? How much does take in?

Apr. 15 2009 12:32 PM

But isn't this simply the laws of capitalism? Generally its hard for old established industries to innovate? This allows up and coming companies who are innovative to build their businesses.

Apr. 15 2009 12:31 PM

Will TV and radio follow the same path as Newspapers?

Apr. 15 2009 12:28 PM

Betty Anne,

Most newspapers and mainstream media follow the government line in times of crisis. I mean what was there stance during Vietnam say 65, 66? What did they do during the Spanish American, Philipino War of Independence, WWI, WW2, Korea?

Apr. 15 2009 12:25 PM
Dave Ruby from Westchester

Are there other promising heirs or relatives that might fix the paper?

Apr. 15 2009 12:25 PM

How about the liberal bias and editorial page. Maybe with the exposure to more information, people now realize its liberal agenda. I mean maybe liberals can't run a business.

Apr. 15 2009 12:22 PM


Didn't the Times own radio and TV stations.

Apr. 15 2009 12:16 PM

D. Edwards Deming concepts were used successfully in Japan. So I wouldn't knock it.

Apr. 15 2009 12:15 PM
Betty Anne from UES

I think blaming the fall of the NYT's on Craiglist or anything like that is pathetic.

The NYT's proved during the lead-up to the Iraq war they have NO journalistic integrity. Many people I know just don't trust it anymore.

Apr. 15 2009 12:15 PM


What makes you think that if Amazon had been under control of the NYT that it would have succeeded?

Apr. 15 2009 12:14 PM

But most equity investors don't like "conglomerate" type of structures. The idea is that if I want diversification, I will seek it out. I don't need a media company to invest in unrelated businesses.

Apr. 15 2009 12:09 PM
Merrill from New York, NY

The NEW NYT way to finance its way out of its financial mess:
1. Do a scandelous, full-length, slam piece, e.g. against Sen Gilibrand for working many years ago as an associate attorney for a pro-tobacco firm.
2. Next day, doing a search in the NYT website of "Gilibrand and tobacco," which yields one paid sponsor result: Sen. Gilibrand's website and how she is now anti-tobacco.

Apr. 15 2009 12:07 PM

I agree with previous post. But I want to add, that most content is popcorn for the brain. I mean even all the content on WNYC is a form of entertainment. How much "news" do you really need to know to get through each day? I grew up picking up the paper in the morning, but I would rarely do it now, even though it is a pleasant experience to thumb through the newspaper.

If its information that you feel you really need, (i.e. to do your job etc, helps you make money) you would pay for it. Since I value WNYC, I make contributions.

Michael Crichton had this pegged back in 1993 when he predicted the death of traditional media.

Michael Crichton, Vindicated His 1993 prediction of mass-media extinction now looks on target.
By Jack Shafer

Today's mass media is tomorrow's fossil fuel. Michael Crichton is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.

Apr. 15 2009 11:52 AM

Aside from everybody's bathroom buddy Thos. Moser, I can't think of any INDUSTRIES, let alone businesses, that have thrived beyond 4 generations or 100 years at longest... could it be that human life is simply too fluid to support large corporate structures that seem to outlive their raisons d'etre inside a single human lifespan?

Apr. 15 2009 10:50 AM

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