web analytics
August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

He Changed The Paper That Changed His Name


Media-Monitor-logo

When reporter Abraham Michael Rosenthal’s byline began appearing in The New York Times back in the 1940’s, the sensitivities of the paper’s owners – German Jews of the fully assimilated “Our Crowd” variety – dictated that he use the initials A.M. in place of his glaringly ethnic first name.

By the time he stepped down as executive editor nearly four decades later, A.M. Rosenthal could take credit for some of the most sweeping changes ever implemented in the nation’s premier newspaper.

During his first 20 years at the Times, Rosenthal reported from locations as diverse as the United Nations, Africa, Poland, India and Vietnam. His work in Poland won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1960, one year after he’d been expelled from the country for his brutally frank coverage of the Polish government.

Rosenthal’s experience as a foreign correspondent was followed by a steady rise through the Times’s managerial ranks. It was as executive editor that he left his most enduring mark, a fact long acknowledged by admirers and detractors alike (and there were always plenty in both categories).

A familiar complaint about the Times in the years before Rosenthal took charge was that the liberal views expounded in the paper’s editorials seemed at times to creep into the news articles. But under Rosenthal’s stewardship the Times achieved new levels of objectivity in its reporting – so much so that some liberal staffers accused Rosenthal of tilting too far to the right.

Rosenthal was suspicious of his younger reporters’ political views. Joseph Lelyveld, a future Times executive editor, told Susan Tifft and Alex Jones, authors of The Trust, a monumental history of the Times, that Rosenthal “tended to regard [them] as being naturally left wing. Abe would always say, with some justice, that you have to keep your hand on the tiller and steer it to the right or it’ll drift off to the left.”

While Rosenthal may have been wary of those staffers he considered prone to injecting personal agendas into their stories, there is no real evidence that ideology played any role in the hiring, firing, or promoting of news personnel.

The picture one gets from Joseph C. Goulden’s none-too-flattering Fit To Print (the only full-length biography of Rosenthal to date), as well as from the late media critic Edwin Diamond’s Behind The Times, is that of an executive editor who was astonishingly lenient with some of his subordinates while itching to pull the trigger on others – primarily for reasons of personality, not politics.

Rosenthal had his flaws, to be sure. He was, according to former Times reporter John Corry, all too easily charmed by John Lindsay when the latter ran for mayor in 1965, to the point of jubilantly hugging metropolitan editor Arthur Gelb on election night and yelling “We’ve won.”

And Times watchers who are less than enamored of the paper’s foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman have Rosenthal to thank for solicitously watching over Friedman’s ascent at the paper.

Still, there is no denying that the Times during Rosenthal’s tenure was in general a fairer, better-balanced newspaper than it had been before he took over – and, for that matter, than it has been since he relinquished the reins in 1987.

Under Rosenthal the Times became a more readable newspaper, the dense gray corporate prose that had long been the paper’s trademark giving way to a snappier, more personalized style.

Rosenthal was also the prime mover in getting the Times to introduce the weekly supplements pegged to individual news categories (sports, science, lifestyles, etc.) that upon their debut in the mid-1970’s immediately gave new life to what had become a sleepy format.

All things considered, the irony inherent in Rosenthal’s tenure at the paper is inescapable: Whereas in the beginning it was the Times that permanently altered his byline, in the end it was Abe Rosenthal who permanently altered the Times.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “He Changed The Paper That Changed His Name”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Matt Lee of the Associated Press at the State Department press briefing.
ObameDeal Exposed: It’s not ‘Secret’ from Congress but not in Writing
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Assemblymember Bichotte speaking in the New York State Assembly.

The bills I’m proud to have sponsored are less controversial, more responsive to yeshiva and parochial school parents, and were gaining traction in the Assembly until the negative campaign began…

Zechariah Schwarzberg, z”l

Though intimately acquainted with mankind’s darkest side, he never lost his faith&love in God or man

Some of the president’s defenders took to arguing that the overwhelming majority of German military personnel interred in Bitburg were regular Wehrmacht soldiers who died on the battlefield and likely were not involved in atrocities against civilians.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/he-changed-the-paper-that-changed-his-name/2006/05/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: