web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

The Man Who Remade The NY Times


Media-Monitor-logo

Share Button
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.

Share Button

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.

No Responses to “The Man Who Remade The NY Times”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Bob Grant

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.

Camelot-112213

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.

Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.

Oscar “Ossie” Schectman, who scored the first basket in the history of the league that evolved into the National Basketball Association, died last week at age 94.

It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? And yet it seems like the conversation was never really interrupted, as I’ve enjoyed, in the three and a half months since this column last appeared, many an interesting exchange, via e-mail and phone, with some very intelligent readers.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: