web analytics
February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

The Man Who Remade The NY Times


Media-Monitor-logo

Though he had more than his share of detractors during and after his years as managing and then executive editor of The New York Times, can there be any doubt that the paper began its precipitous and still ongoing decline the moment A.M. Rosenthal was forced, by company policy, to retire in 1986 at age 65?
With Rosenthal’s birthday (he would have been 89 on May 2) and the fifth anniversary of his death (May 10) both coming up in a few weeks, it seems appropriate to revisit some of the Monitor’s reflections on the occasion of his passing in 2006.
When Abraham Michael Rosenthal’s byline began appearing in The New York Times back in the 1940s, 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, 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; under his leadership 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 nearly 1,000-page history of the Times and its owners, 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.”
Rosenthal had his flaws, to be sure. 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 (a study of the paper’s evolution under Rosenthal’s stewardship),is that of an executive editor who was astonishingly lenient with some of his subordinates while itching to pull the trigger on others, though primarily for reasons of personality rather than politics.
According to former Times reporter John Corry, Rosenthal, at the time the paper’s metropolitan editor, was all too easily charmed by John Lindsay when the latter ran for mayor in 1965, to the point of ditching all pretense of journalistic objectivity in full sight of his subordinates as he jubilantly hugged assistant metropolitan editor Arthur Gelb on election night, 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 Rosenthal in general made the Times a fairer, better-balanced newspaper than it had been before he took over – and certainly than it has been since he left the editor’s chair.
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.
And Rosenthal was the prime mover in getting the Times to introduce weekly supplements pegged to individual news categories (sports, science, lifestyles, etc.) that upon their debut in the 1970s 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 New York Times that permanently altered his byline, in the end it was Abe Rosenthal who permanently altered The New York Times.

 

 

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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 “The Man Who Remade The NY Times”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Poster for anti-Semitic rally to fight "Jewification" of north London neighborhood of Stamford Hill.
Anti-Semitic Rally Opposing ‘Jewification’ of Britain
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Comptroller DiNapoli celebrates Sukkot with Crown Heights Jewish community leaders at the sukkah of Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

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.

Front-Page-102414

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.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/the-man-who-remade-the-ny-times/2011/04/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: