Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Wednesday, January 4, 2006: Nice
day. Market was up. No reason. Probably be down today. I don't like the trend,
except for a handful of "hot" stocks, including Whole Foods and Google.
Spent most of the day on non-investing things, like tennis, cleaning, reading
the movie, is a must-see. In 1972, terrorists
from a group called Black September kidnapped and later killed 11 Israeli athletes
from the Munich Olympics. In retaliation, Israel put together a "Counter-Terrorist
Team" to hunt down and kill the alleged masterminds behind the plot. The
film focuses on the five man Israeli team charged with the killings.
The focus of the
movie is not the killings and how they're done, but how nice, normal people
react to suddenly becoming cold-blooded murderers. It affects them. It's not
a job you and I would like. Meanwhile, the killings are met with more killings,
more kidnappings and more violence from the other side. Far more people are
killed by the other side as a result of these vengeance killings. Which brings
us to the question you're left with. Since violence begets violence (especially
in the middle east), what do you do? And especially what do you do if you want
to live in peace and the other side wants you dead and gone? There are no answers
as Michael and I discovered at a long dinner after a very long, but gripping
movie. Highly recommended.
readers don't like Intel's new strategy, etc. BusinessWeek
is asking its readers, "Intel is ditching its ubiquitous 'Intel Inside'
sticker, doing away with its widely recognized corporate logo with the dropped
"e," and losing the Pentium brand name for its microprocessors. What
do you think?" 54.1% of respondees answered, "I dont
get it. Why throw out a tried-and-true branding strategy to unmake your business
and then start over again?"
Preventing Identity Theft. If
yours get stolen, you'll lose money, time and sanity. The stories you hear from
victims are unreal. The institutions who pay money out to the thieves -- your
local bank or credit card company -- are faceless, uncaring and skeptical of
your claims. A recent Federal Trade Commission survey found that 27.3 million
Americans were victims of identity theft between 1998 and 2003. Here
are ten steps which you can take to reduce your chance of becoming a victim.
They come from the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.
1. Secure your
- Guard your mail. Consider buying a mailbox that locks or installing a mail
slot in your door to protect thieves from stealing your bills, convenience checks,
pre-approved credit offers, and other mail that contains sensitive information.
- Shred and destroy any bills, account statements, credit card offers, or files
containing sensitive information before throwing them away.
- Carry only the information you need. When you go out, only take the debit
cards, credit cards and identification that you will need to use.
- Use effective passwords for your financial accounts. Avoid using easily available
information such as your mother's maiden name, your birth date, or the last
four numbers of your social security number.
you social security number.
- Do not carry your social security card in your wallet.
- Do not allow your social security number to be used on your driver's license
or identification cards for your employer, school, or insurer. Request alternative
- Do not use your social security number as a password or security code on your
accounts or the Internet.
3. Tell companies
not to sell or share your data.
- Stop creditors from sending pre-approved credit offers through the mail. Call
1-888-5-OPT-OUT, a number maintained by the three major credit bureaus.
Press option 3 to remove your name permanently. You can also opt-out of these
offers electronically at www.optoutprescreen.com
- Opt-out of information sharing. Federal law allows you the stop your bank
and other financial institutions from sharing your personal information with
most outside companies. Review the "Privacy Policies" your financial
institutions send you once a year, and write to any companies that you want
to restrict from sharing your personal information.
4. No "Phishing."
Phishing is a form of Internet fraud that involves thieves sending email or
pop-up messages to trick individuals into providing their personal information,
like account numbers and passwords. These fraudsters are sophisticated and may
appear to be a bank or other financial institution that you deal with.
- Never respond to an email or pop-up message that asks for your personal or
financial information. Legitimate companies will not ask for this information.
- Never click on the link in these messages. Fraudsters can make the link look
like its going to your financial institution, but in fact it's going to a different
5. Be careful
on the Internet.
- Never use your debit card on the Internet. Victims of debit card fraud
have less legal protection than victims of credit card fraud.
- Deal only with reputable companies that you know.
- Check privacy and security policies of websites, and look for opportunities
to opt out of information sharing.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your computers, and keep
them up to date.
6. Keep track
of your financial accounts.
- Check your bills and account statements each month for fraudulent charges
and report any suspicious charges immediately.
- Make sure you receive your statements on time. Call your creditor if you do
not receive them because thieves may have made a fraudulent change of address
on your account.
your credit reports.
- Order a FREE copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three
major credit bureaus. You can request all three reports at once, or stagger
them throughout the year. Review your credit report for errors. Verify that
-Your name, address, social security number are correct;
-All inactive accounts are closed;
-No accounts or debts that do not belong to are listed;
-No unfamiliar parties have recently obtained a copy of your credit report.
8. Take control
over your credit. You may be able to place fraud alerts or a security freeze
on your credit report to reduce your risk of identity theft.
- Military Alerts: If you are a member of the military and are on active duty,
you may place an active duty alert on your credit file. The active duty alert
will require creditors to take additional steps to verify an applicant's identity
before issuing credit in your name.
-Call one of the three national credit bureaus to place an activity duty alert
on your file. It will contact the other credit bureaus.
-The active duty alert will remain valid for twelve months.
- Fraud alert: If you believe that you are a victim of fraud, you may place
a fraud alert on your credit reports that will require creditors to take additional
steps to verify an applicant's identity before issuing credit in your name.
-Call one of the three national credit bureaus to flag your file with a fraud
alert. It will contact other credit bureaus. This initial fraud alert will remain
valid for 90 days.
-Ask for a free credit report and review it thoroughly. Fraud victims are entitled
to a free credit report.
-If you file a report with law enforcement, you may place an extended fraud
alert on your credit report that will remain valid for seven years. With an
extended alert on your report, you may request two free credit reports a year.
- Security Freeze: If you are an identity theft victim, you may block access
to your credit report as of January 1, 2006. The freeze will prevent the credit
bureaus from releasing your credit report unless you ask them to release it
and provide them with a special security code.
-File a police report.
-Send a copy of the report and a written request for a security freeze to each
of the three credit bureaus. You must send this request through certified mail.
-Keep the security code that you can use to release your credit report in a
9. Demand strong
- Ask questions whenever merchants, creditors, schools and others ask you
for sensitive personal information that seems unnecessary for the transaction.
Ask how the information will be used and how it will be safeguarded.
- Talk to your employer about how it safeguards your personal information. Request
that social security numbers not be used as employee identification numbers.
10. How to
contact the credit reporting Bureaus:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Report fraud: (800) 525-6285
Order report: (800) 685-1111
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
Report fraud: (888) 397-3742
Order report: (888) 397-3742
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064
Report fraud: (800) 680-7289:
Order report: (800) 916-8800
Free Annual Credit
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
article just in case you need it one day.
Can Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., save the Timesand
himself? In December 19's issue of the New Yorker Magazine,
Ken Auletta, an excellent journalist wrote a piece he called "THE INHERITANCE."
It discusses what's happening at the New York Times. Most newspapers
stocks are a disaster, since print is effectively dead. This fascinating article
shows what happens when you combine dead print with dead management:
at the Chelsea Piers sports complex a group that included corporate leaders,
bankers and teachers held a black-tie benefit dinner t celebrate Outward Bound,
and to honor the winner of the award named for its founder, Kur Hahn. The
speakers talked about Hahns belief in a persons inner strengths,
recounted grueling outdoor experiences, and gave solemn thanks for the sort
of campfire encounter sessions they ha come to value at Outward Bound. Throughout
the evening, people greeted each other with hugs and even tears; but there
was silence when the award for furthering the Outward Bound mission
was presented to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., the chairman of the New York
Times Company and publisher of the Times. Sulzberger was wryly introduced
by a friendI found his infectious enthusiasm to be irritating
when I was dangling over a cliff, she saidand then Sulzberger,
a youthful-looking man of fifty-four, bounded to the microphone. With his
hands on his hips, and his jacket unbuttoned, Sulzberger recalled how, when
he was sixteen, Outward Bound changed his life. He had felt lost and insecure,
he saida child of divorce, shuttling between two homesand, alone
in the wilderness, with the help of Outward Bound mentors, he learned self-reliance.
Ive spent a good portion of my life trying to give back to Outward
Bound something it gave to me, he said, and spoke of those I am
so blessed to call comrades, and of discovering the truth about
ourselves. His cousin Dan Cohen, who is his closest friend, said, He
was uncertain, as many of us are growing up. Can we handle ourselves in adversity?
He had been bounced around. He sort of found a center in this.
Sulzberger can be just as passionate about journalism and the Times, the newspaper
that his family has controlled since 1896. But there his infectious
enthusiasm sometimes strikes people as immature or sarcastic. Although
he occupies perhaps the most august position in the nations press establishment,
he seems to lack the weighty seriousness of his predecessors, among them Adolph
Ochs, the papers founder; Orvil Dryfoos; and his father, Arthur (Punch)
Sulzberger. This was evident on the afternoon of September 29th, when the
Times reporter Judith Miller was released from a Virginia jail, after being
held for eighty-five days because she had refused to name a source. Sulzberger
and the papers executive editor, Bill Keller, waited outside the prison
to greet her, but federal marshals wanted Miller to leave in handcuffs and
shackles. Suspecting that photographers were waiting, Miller protested; instead,
the marshals put her in the back seat of an S.U.V. with tinted windows. The
S.U.V. was trailed by Millers lawyer, Robert Bennett, in one car and
Sulzberger and Keller in a second car. When the marshals stopped to let Miller
out, Sulzberger told his driver to pull up alongside the S.U.V. He jumped
out and, unable to see through the dark glass, excitedly tapped at the back
window. Judy! he said. Judy! Its me!
Get away from the vehicle, sir! a marshal said, according to Miller.
Bennett, a veteran of many of Washingtons largest legal battles, was
surprised. I said to myself, It sure seems odd for the publisher
of the New York Times!
Miller recalled that she was thrilled to see him, and so
relieved it was over. But, of course, it wasnt over. Within days,
fresh criticism of Miller and her reporting began to build at the Times, and
within weeks her estrangement from Sulzberger and the newspaper was complete.
And it was far from over for Sulzberger, whose business decisions and editorial
judgment have sometimes been questioned by associates almost from the time
that he took over from his father. Gay Talese, who, in the sixties, wrote
the definitive history of the Times, The Kingdom and the Power,
says, You get a bad king every once in a while.
Twice in the last three years, the Times newsroom has suffered the equivalent
of a nervous breakdown, and critics say that Sulzberger has managed the latest
crisis as poorly as he did the episode involving the fabrications of the reporter
Jayson Blair, which led, in 2003, to the firing of Howell Raines, the executive
editor. These newsroom crises have come when the Times can least afford themduring
a period of technological and economic uncertainty that has affected the entire
industry. The Times stock price fell 33.2 per cent between December
31, 2004, and October 31, 2005sixty per cent more than the industry
average, according to Merrill Lynch newspaper analysts. The operating profit
of the Times Company has also slipped in each of the past three years. Owing
to the cost of fuel, newsprint, and employee benefits, expenditures are increasing
by between four and five per cent a year and revenues by only about three
per cent, a senior Times corporate executive says; this person is worried
that its just a matter of time until we start losing money.
At a newsroom meeting at the end of November, Bill Keller, in a reference
to the Miller case and attacks on the Times from bloggers, said that he was
concerned about orgies of self-absorption that distract us from our
more important work, but most of the questions directed at him did not
deal with Miller. The single most unsettling thing people face now is
the economic situation confronting the paper, and not knowing what the future
holds, Todd S. Purdum, a Washington correspondent, says. (Purdum recently
took the job of national editor at Vanity Fair, but he says that the economic
situation was not a factor in the decision.) Jennifer Steinhauer, a metro
reporter, told me, I really think the financial issue faced by this
company and this industry is the big concern, and not Judith Miller. The health-care
fund for Guild employeesthe Newspaper Guildwent belly
up last year, so we had to give up our pay raises to fund it. Our stock options
are under water. These are the kinds of things preoccupying people: Whats
going to happen to this industry?
For years, the Times was accused of arrogance, yet was admired for excellence;
no newspaper has won so many prizes or produced such consistently outstanding
journalism. Its devotion to quality and its sense of self brought a kind of
corporate swaggera trait that may have vanished in the face of constant
crises and repeated self-examination. Within the newsroom, there is a sense
of rudderlessness and a fear that a series of business misjudgments may so
weaken the companys finances that the brilliance of the Times, its news
staff of twelve hundred, and, ultimately, the historic mission of the company
will be at serious risk. In this crisis of identity, some of the criticism
is directed at Keller and his team, for what is seen as a lack of forceful
leadership, but the publisher has, fairly or not, become a particular source
of concern; one Times Company executive who respects Sulzbergers commitment
to journalism considers him no more than a business figurehead.
In late October, a family friend asked, Is Arthur going to get fired?
12th, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was invited to a publisher
luncheon at which various Times editors and reporters were present. Such events
are common in the life of the Times and other major newspapers, but this one
had an odd start. A security dog that had earlier been sniffing for bombs
got sick on the carpet of the room where the lunch was to be held. The mess
was cleaned up, but the stench was still noticeable when Rice and her party
arrived. The air-conditioning was turned up high to diminish the smell, but
it was difficult to hear above the noise. Sulzberger greeted Rice and, according
to the transcript posted on the State Departments Web site, began by
asking how she thought the United States was viewed right now by the
United Nations, and whether it mattered. And before you answer
that question, just so everybody knows, he said, its pretty
loud in this room, so my apologies. The bomb-sniffing dog threw up here.
Everyone laughed, but Sulzberger continued to apologize, and, as some of the
reporters present cringed, Rice finally said, Thank you for sharing
Several minutes later, during a discussion about the incarceration in China
of a Times employee, Rice said that she and President Bush planned to raise
this issue when Bush visited China. Thank you for that, Sulzberger
said. Have you seen Judy Miller lately? Perhaps President Bush can help
with that one. Once more, Times editors and reporters winced.
One often hears it said that Sulzberger lacks sufficient gravitas for a man
in his position, which is perhaps another way of saying that he is still more
a prince than a mature king. Sulzbergers hair has begun to turn gray
and to recede, and yet, like Tom Hanks in the movie Big, he seems
to be only impersonating an older man. He is often known as Young Arthur,
and, behind his back, people still call him Pinch, in contrast to his father,
Punch. He tends to draw attention to himself with a loud cackle or an awkwardly
offhand remark. He keeps in his office artifacts of his two hobbiesa
wooden sculpture of a beloved motorcycle and sculptures of rock climbers.
But his preoccupation has been the Times, which he may have been destined
to run from the time he was born. As Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones recount
in The Trust, their authoritative history of the family, when
he was five his parents divorced; he and his sister, Karen, lived with their
mother, who soon remarried, and spent two weekends a month with Punch. In
1970, Arthur enrolled at Tufts, where he studied political science and international
relations and thought about entering the family business one day. While he
was in college, his mother married for a third time and settled in Topeka,
Kansas, where he met and fell in love with Gail Gregg, the daughter of a neighbor.
Gail, like Arthur, was fascinated by journalism, and two months later she
went to Boston to live with him. After he graduated, in June, 1974, they moved
to North Carolina, where Punch helped get Arthur a job as a general-assignment
reporter for the Raleigh Times and Gail went to graduate school in journalism.
They married the following year, and in 1976 the elder Sulzberger helped Arthur
and Gail find reporting jobs in London, he with the Associated Press, she
with United Press International.
Two years later, starting his apprenticeship in the family business, Arthur,
Jr., joined the Times as a reporter in the Washington bureau. He and Gail
became friendly with a number of reporters thereparticularly Steven
Rattner, Judith Miller, Steven Weisman, Philip Taubman, and Felicity Barringer.
(Rattner and Miller once shared a summer house with the Sulzbergers and other
friends.) Charles Kaiser, then a reporter for the Times, says of Arthur, He
was the charming young father who brought his baby boy to a party on his shoulders.
He made a real effort to be one of the boys. Everyone knew that he might
succeed his father, but he did not flaunt his position. After three years
in Washington, the young Sulzbergers and their son, Arthur Gregg, moved to
New York, where Arthur became a general assignment reporter on the metro desk.
A year later, he became an assistant metro editor, and in 1982 he moved to
the business side of the paper. Sulzberger was made assistant publisher in
1987 and deputy publisher the following year, reporting directly to his father.
As he came closer to succeeding his father, he began to tell people that he
would never tolerate an authoritarian newsroom, as he believed his father
had under the executive editor A. M. Rosenthal, and that he would cut off
his personal friendships at the paper. (Rattner, who remains a close friend
and adviser, escaped the ban, having left the Times in 1982 to become an investment
banker.) He became publisher in January, 1992, and, in 1997, when Punch stepped
down as chairman, his son succeeded him in that post, too.
Sulzberger was reserved, Arthur Jr., was voluble. Punch did not make his politic
public; Arthur, Jr., leaned to the left (he had bee vehemently opposed to
the Vietnam War, an was arrested more than once at protest rallies) John F.
Akers, a former chairman and C.E.O. of I.B.M., who has been a Times board
member since 1985, says, Punch has a dry sense of humor, ironic, sardonic.
Arthurs humor is very different. Hes a little quick with the gun.
Whatever their stylistic differences, they had the same values where the paper
was concerned. Arthur, Jr., believed that his father had saved the newspaper
by attracting new readers and advertisers, and he admired his fathers
courage in defying the Nixon Administration to publish the Pentagon Papers,
The new publisher, however, had his own management ideas. He thought that
the corporate culture was inbred and in need of more diversitymore women,
more minorities, more gays. (Charles Kaiser, who is gay, says, When
he came in, gays in the newsroom lived in terror, and Arthur met them and
took each of them to lunch and said, What is it like to be gay here?
When I take over, it will no longer be a problem. He transformed the
institution from the most homophobic institution in America to the most gay-friendly
In 1992, Arthur, Jr., named Howell Raines, the Washington bureau chief, as
editorial-page editor. He wanted a livelier, more assertive, populist pagea
departure for the Times, where the editorial pages had been staid and often
predictable. In 1994, he promoted Joseph Lelyveld, then the managing editor,
to executive editor, succeeding Max Frankel. When it was Lelyvelds turn
to retire, in 2001, Sulzberger arranged for Bill Keller, then the managing
editor, and Raines to compete for the position.
Keller, whom Sulzberger didnt know as well as he did Raines, was Lelyvelds
preferred candidate and promised continuity. Raines, a more charismatic and
high-spirited figure than Keller, though not his equal as a correspondent,
appealed to Sulzbergers sense of mission. He promised to boost business,
sports, and cultural coverage, and to attract more readers from USA Today
and the Wall Street Journal; he wanted to bring more diversity into the newsroom,
and intended to appoint Gerald Boyd, who is black, managing editor. Raines
energized Arthur, Jr., in a way that Keller did not. Raines won allies on
the business side by promising to raise the competitive metabolism
of the news staff, suggesting that the newsroom could work harder. In the
end, there was little mystery to the race and even less competition: Sulzberger
chose Raines; Keller returned to writing, with an Op-Ed column and regular
Raines moved into his new office the week before the terror attacks of September
11, 2001, and, over the next six months or so, the newsroom excelled and its
work was recognized with a record-breaking seven Pulitzer Prizes. Judith Miller
shared an award for explanatory reporting with six other reporters for the
papers coverage. Her reporting on attempts by terrorists to gain access
to weapons of mass destruction, and, later, on Saddam Husseins alleged
hidden weapons programs, was often featured on the front page. Privately,
some editors and reporters complained that Miller relied too much on Administration
sourcesthat, in the words of one editor, she was a vacuum cleaner
of information but a poor judge of what she had. Raines
and his team generally ignored such complaints and, whether that was the intent
or not, W.M.D. stories in the Times shielded Raines from the charge that he
was too liberal.
first major newsroom crisis began in the spring of 2003, when Jayson Blair
fabrications came to light. What might have bee no more than a major embarrassment
at another newspaper caused a firestorm that involved no only Blair, who was
dismissed, but also Raines who was accused of being too hellbent on scoop
and, above all, of creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that eclipsed
Rosenthals last years. Sulzberger defended Raines, who had hell the
job for less than two years, but, in order to air the issue, he rented a theater
on West Forty-fourth Street and invited the Times staff to question Raines,
Gerald Boyd, and himself.
As the three men took their places onstage, Sulzberger was holding a mysterious
bag. He told the story of a Times business retreat where a moose had been
lurking outside the window but wasnt mentioned by any of the executives
present. He then pulled from the bag a stuffed toy moose, held it up, and
urged his employees to discuss any moose issuesmeaning the
most obvious issues that people were wary of confronting. This was the closest
that many in the newsroom had ever got to Sulzberger, and the moose gesture
was widely viewed as a clumsy prank at the worst possible momentneither
a joke nor a parable. The day with the moose ended it, a senior
correspondent at the paper said. That was the day you said, This
guy is tone deaf.
Within weeks, Sulzberger had become convinced that Raines could not rescue
himself or the situation, and Raines was fired. For Keller, the Raines era
was harmful in a less obvious way, and he remains bitter about it. Keller,
who is fifty-six, speaks slowly and deliberately, but his candor can be as
jarring as Sulzbergers humor. The business and news sides of newspapers,
he told me last month, always have an ambient level of suspicion
toward each other. The business side has trouble applying traditional
business metrics to what we do, he said. On the business side,
there is a tendency to suspect that the newsroom is hiding something behind
a lot of smoke and mirrors. This is a perception Howell fed. Of all the things
Howell bequeathed to me, somewhere high on that listmaybe higher than
Judy Milleris his claim that the newsroom had become fat and complacent.
That plays into what business sides of newspapers tend to believe. I think
that was wrong. I think the reason he made that case was cynical. . . . I
dont think he really believed it. I think he thought it would make him
popular with the business side. Keller also said he did not believe
that Sulzberger chose Raines for that reason. But he added, Howell campaigned
for the job with the political skills we admire in Karl Rove.
Raines, in an e-mail response, said, It was well known throughout the
paper that I believed the Times needed to improve its journalism and its business
practices. It still doeswitness the declining stock price. Any reasonable
person who read my editorial page could see that I did not pander to business
or economic interests, inside or outside the paper. Bill knows that the cynicism,
if any, ran the other way. Joe Lelyveld tried to cast me as a candidate of
the business side in hopes of improving Bills standing in the newsroom.
My own view is that an editor in todays environment who doesnt
understand the economics of the newspaper business is under-informed.
Lelyveld declined to comment, saying, I dont want to get involved
in old New York Times debates.
The newsroom generally likes and respects Kellerhe was one of the best
foreign correspondents in the papers historybut some people had
seen him as aloof and, at times, given to strange jokes. When Dean Baquet,
a former colleague who had become managing editor of the Los Angeles Times,
was trying to hire away some of his reporters, Keller told the Washington
Posts Howard Kurtz that Baquet has this habit of telling recruits
theres something in the New York water that makes your penis fall off.
A Times editor says of Keller, Hes a bit of a loner. He spends
a lot of time in his office. Nor did Keller have an easy rapport with
his publisher. In the two years that he was a columnist, he told a friend,
they rarely spoke. In the months after Keller succeeded Raines, Sulzberger
told friends that he thought Keller was holding back, as if he still resented
not being chosen the first time. We started out without much of a relationship
at all and with a certain wariness of each other, Keller told me, but
it wasnt a question of whether Arthur and I like each other. I
think we do.
and demoralizing episode involving Judith MillerSulzbergers recent
crisis on the news sidebegan on July 14, 2003, when the syndicated columnist
Robert Novak revealed the name of an undercover C.I.A. agent, Valeri Plame.
Plame is married to Joseph C. Wilson IV a former career State Department official,
who that spring and summer had been questioning the Bush Administrations
assertion that Iraq was seeking material to build nuclear weaponsa assertion
that the White House withdrew around the time of the Novak column. Because
revealing the identity of an undercover agent violates 1982 national-security
act, the Justice Department began to investigate whether members of the Bush
Administration had knowingly done so, an eventually chose Patrick Fitzgerald
as special counsel. Among the reporters Fitzgerald asked t testify were two
from the Washington Post; Tim Russert, of NBC; Matt Cooper, of Time; and Judith
Miller, who had never written about Wilson or his wife but had closely followed
the question of Iraqs weapons program. In the following days and weeks,
the Washington Post and NBC came to decide that this was no case on which
to make a First Amendment stand, but Time and the Times chose to resist the
subpoenas from Fitzgeralds grand jury; Miller and Cooper refused to
testify, saying that they could not break pledges of confidentiality to sources.
The case became a heartfelt cause for Sulzberger, who relied on the First
Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, as did Time Inc. Thomas F. Hogan, the chief
U.S. district-court judge, held Cooper and Miller in civil contempt for refusing
to testify. In early 2005, Sulzberger invited officials from Time Inc.including
Norman Pearlstine, then the editor-in-chief; his deputy, John Huey; and Matt
Cooperto meet with him, the Times C.E.O., Janet Robinson; its
communications chief, Catherine Mathis; Times lawyers; and Judith Miller to
discuss strategy. Only Robin Bierstedt, an associate general counsel at Time
Inc., and Dawn Bridges, the senior vice-president for corporate communications,
showed up, with instructions from Pearlstine to listen politely and make no
Sulzberger began by saying, We need people to understand what this means.
We need passion. Bridges asked whether the audience was the courts,
the public, or the special counsel. Everyone, Sulzberger responded.
He talked about holding joint press conferences, and mounting an advertising
campaign. Then, with Miller taking notes, Sulzberger pulled from an envelope
a bunch of small white buttons with writing in red, blue, and blackFree
Judy. Free Matt. Free Speechand passed them around. Nearly a year
later, senior executives at Time Inc. still shake their heads when recounting
this story. He wanted to do the right thing, but he seemed naïve,
one executive said. He was earnest, and he was admirable, Judith
Last February, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
ruled unanimously against Miller and Cooper, Sulzberger and Time decided to
appeal to the Supreme Court. At the annual meeting of Times Company shareholders
in April, Sulzberger said, When we consider the many complex issues
that we face at home and abroad, it is hard to imagine a more inopportune
moment to restrain our access to information. . . . When individuals do speak
to us, confidentially, they do so knowing we will protect their identity.
Miller still considered Sulzberger to be her champion, but she also had reasons
to be wary. Matthew Mallow, a friend of hers who is a senior partner at the
law firm Skadden, Arps, advised her to get her own attorney, someone with
a background in criminal law. Sulzberger agreed to pay for a lawyer, and Miller
eventually chose Robert Bennett, of Skadden, Arps, who was Bill Clintons
personal attorney and had defended him in the Monica Lewinsky case. At the
same time, Miller felt growing hostility from Keller and many colleagues in
the newsroom. This had started a year earlier, when Keller and Jill Abramson,
the managing editor, ran an editors note acknowledging that some of
the Times reporting on Iraqs W.M.D.sincluding several stories
written by Millerwas not as rigorous as it should have been.
Keller and Abramson spent hours going over past stories, trying to judge where
Millers reporting was thin or just plain wrong. They had telephone and
e-mail exchanges with several Times reporters, few of whom were pleased at
the prospect of being second-guessed. But Miller, Keller recalled, was
defensive, unrelentingly sure of her positions, and unwilling to be perceived
as someone who wrote bad stories.
Miller, for her part, asked why no one blamed editors like Raines, and others,
who knew all of my sources. (Raines, in an e-mail, said, I
did not know Judys sources. At the time, I followed the customary Times
practice of relying on the supervising desk editorin this case, most
often the Washington editor and the foreign editorto make sure the sourcing
on the stories they handled was correct. I questioned reporters directly on
some stories out of the Pentagon, but, to my regret, I did not do so on these
stories. As many journalism critics have noted, the Times has yet to reveal
what editors among present staff members were directly involved in assigning
and editing Judy Millers stories. Scapegoating Judy or anyone else does
not erase their responsibility to tell their readers the full truth in this
matter.) I should have left the paper after the editors
note, Miller says. The reason I didnt is that weeks afterward,
I got a subpoena. . . . I knew I couldnt fight on my own. (A disclosure:
My wife, a literary agent, represents both Keller and Miller.)
Miller asked why Keller wouldnt allow her to do more reporting to uncover
why the Times had been wrong. Keller was weary of the battles he had fought
with Miller over the editors note; even when he thought she had agreed,
he said, Miller would return and recycle every argument. And even after he
and Abramson thought that they had restricted Millers reporting, she
persisted. Late one night in 2004, Miller called Keller at home from the home
of an Iraqi exile, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri. He was one of the most
famous products of Ahmad Chalabis intelligence factory, Keller
said, referring to the Iraqi opposition leader. Someone who had specifically
been a source in one of Judys discredited W.M.D. stories. Keller
was astonished. She was calling me up to say, Im at Haideris
house. Theyre going to deport him. Im the only one who can report
this story. It was just unmistakable that she saw her role here as partly
the author of a great scoop, but also someone who was way too invested in
her sources. Keller told her to leave Haideris house. (Miller
refused to comment on this incident.)
Keller was also having second thoughts about the legal case. The doubts started,
he says, in the fall of 2004, when it became clear that the Washington Post
did not see Fitzgeralds investigation as a First Amendment issue, and
that the Posts longtime national-security reporter, Walter Pincus, was
going to coöperate. Keller described Pincus as a guy who lives
and dies on anonymous sources, and who I could not see doing something to
ruin his credibility with people who tell him stuffthat gave me pause.
But I breezed past it. A second pause came after the Court of Appeals
ruled against the Times. He said, At that point, I should have gone
into the room and said, Listen, guys, the lawyers arent very optimistic.
There is even some potential danger that the Supreme Court would seize on
this case for an opportunity to make things even worse for the press.
I never made that pitch, he said. The reason? An object
in motion, he said, tends to stay in motion.
In retrospect, it seems that neither Keller nor Sulzberger asked enough questions
about Millers interaction with her source, Vice-President Dick Cheneys
chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, or with her editors. The Supreme
Court declined to review the Appeals Court ruling, and, three days later,
Norman Pearlstine complied with a subpoena to turn over Time Inc.s e-mails
and records; in July, Cooper said that his source had released him from any
confidentiality pledge, and he appeared before the grand jury. Sulzberger
said that he was deeply disappointed in the Time decision; Miller,
still refusing to testifywith Sulzbergers continuing supportwas
ordered to report to the Alexandria Detention Center, in northern Virginia,
until she testified, or until the term of the grand jury expired, in late
In Robert Bennetts
view, Sulzberger cause problems for his client. I dont know what
advice he got from his lawyers, but he was very gung-ho, Bennett said
of Sulzberger. He was pushing Judyto not bend on principle.
When I raised issuesShouldnt we check on the waiver
thing? that is, on whether Libby genuinely had no objection
to Millers revealing her sourcethey were resistant to raising
that issue. Bennett was astonished that Keller an Sulzberger had not
inspected Millers notebook He said, How could the Times have embarked
on this venture without knowing all of the facts? Floyd Abrams, the
newspapers attorney, rejects the suggestion that he and the Times and
Miller were swept up by a righteous stand on behalf of an abstract principle;
he said that he had briefed Keller and Sulzberger on the notebooks contents.
The first time I met Judy on this case, the first thing she said was
Somebody has to fight back against Fitzgerald, Abrams said.
Im not trying to escape responsibility, but Judy was a very active
client. It seems to me that if you dont continually ask, What
is the principle youre trying to establish?, there is nothing
left to defend. Millers legal fees eventually cost the company
about $1.5 million, a senior official said.
By late August, Miller, who had spent nearly sixty days in jail, had become
frustrated with the Times; she was upset that the paper had not run more stories
about her imprisonment, although it did publish fourteen editorials championing
her cause. Meanwhile, Bennett warned her that Fitzgerald could keep her in
jail longer by impanelling a new grand jury, or by bringing a criminal-contempt
action. Bennett had argued that he should ask Libby if he would release Miller
from her pledge of confidentiality, and should reach out to Fitzgerald
to see if he would narrow his scope to one source. After studying Millers
notebook, Bennett concluded that there was only one sourceLibby. When
Fitzgerald agreed to limit his questions accordingly, that made it easier
for Miller, who said, We feared Fitzgerald wanted my entire notebook,
and all my sources. Miller says that Bennett, with Fitzgeralds
encouragement, arranged a telephone conversation with Libby, and became convinced
that Libby genuinely wanted her to testify. If Libby hadnt waived the
pledge of confidentiality, she said, I would have stayed in jail.
When Miller was released, on September 29th, Sulzberger arranged for her to
stay at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, get a massage and a manicure, and have
a steak dinner. Bennett objected, saying that he wanted to prepare her immediately
for the grand-jury session the next morning. Sulzberger insisted that she
deserved a celebration, and Miller sided with him. At the dinner, which was
attended by Sulzberger, Keller, the former Times Op-Ed columnist William Safire,
Miller, and her husband, the former Random House editor Jason Epstein, the
publisher presented Miller with a bronzed Times medallion. It was very
special, Miller told me, eyes tearing as she recounted the moment. Very
few of them were given. Sulzberger now describes the medal as a
trinket, one that his father sometimes gave to retiring Times employees;
it appears that by this time Arthur, Jr., saw Miller, who had been at the
newspaper for twenty-eight years, as an ex-Times employee.
There was no discussion at dinner, or in the coming days, of Millers
future at the Times. Miller assumed that after a decent interval she would
return to the newspaper. She did not know that Sulzberger, Keller, Jill Abramson,
and Janet Robinson had held a series of discussions while she was in jail
and, according to two of the principals, decided that her career at the Times
was over. The decision was that she was not going to work with words
again, one of the participants said. Another person recalled that they
were all in agreement that she could never again be a reporter for the
Times, and that the best course would be that she should leave the paper.
They had discussed firing her, but this could have led to endless litigation,
which the Times might lose; they could negotiate a severance deal;
or they could put her in a job where she would be genuinely containedfor
instance, assign her to the News Service division, part of the business department,
and on another floor. The third option was so draconiansuch
a clear and public statement of a loss of confidence in her work as a reporterthat
they hoped even its suggestion would help steer Judy toward a severance
did what Howell Raines had done after the Jayson Blair episode: he ordered
up a long investigative piece. As ha happened before, blame was assigned mostly
t the reporter and not to Times editors. The article appeared on the front
page on October 16th. It explained that Keller had taken Miller off Iraq and
national-security stories but that she kept kind of drifting on her
own back into the national security realm; suggested that she had misled
the Washington bureau chief, Philip Taubman, when he asked her about the Plame
leak; and also noted that she had referred to herself as Miss Run Amok.
Keller, in an e-mail to the staff from Asiawhere, to the bafflement
of many, he was in the midst of a long-scheduled visit to Times bureaustried
to explain why the Times had taken more than a year to explain its W.M.D.
reporting mistakes, something that might have demonstrated that the paper
was not putting the defense of the reporter above the duty to its readers.
And he created more problems by adding, If I had known the details of
Judys entanglement with Libby, Id have been more careful in how
the paper articulated its defense. What was not known then was that
Keller had first sent a draft of this note to Sulzberger and his two managing
editors, and no one had flagged the word entanglement, with its
implications of a sexual liaisona particularly sensitive issue because
of what Maureen Dowd in a later Times column called Millers tropism
toward powerful men. Miller was furious at the insinuation that she
was having an affair with Libby. She was almost as angry with the Times
public editor, Byron Calame, for writing that she had been guilty of taking
journalistic shortcuts, and had received deferential treatment
from her editors. Dowd, in her column, concluded that if Miller were to return
to the newsroom to cover threats to our country the institution
most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.
While Sulzberger couldnt have been expected to censor the Dowd column,
Millers friends wondered why he didnt ask someone to change the
headline, WOMAN OF MASS DESTRUCTION. (Sulzberger told me, I
did not know of Maureens column on Judy before it ran.) When the
Times wanted Miller to write a first-person account of her grand-jury testimony,
as Matt Cooper had done for Time, she objected, saying that Robert Bennett
had advised against it, because it might antagonize Fitzgerald. Keller himself,
she said, told her that she had to. By this time, Miller had stopped calling
Sulzberger my savior. Although she will not criticize Sulzberger
or discuss aspects of what happened, she does say, reluctantly, He was
there solidlyuntil he wasnt.
For a time, Miller apparently did not realize that Sulzberger had turned on
her, but, soon after the October 16th account appeared, Matthew Mallow said,
Arthur told her she was not coming back as a reporter. Before
Miller would leave the paper, however, she demanded a significant severance
package; the publication of a letter to the editor in which she would clarify
her position and take issue with assertions made by both Keller and Calame;
and a public apology from Keller. If Keller did not retract the entanglement
claim, she threatened to sue him and the Times for defamation.
Keller made public a personal letter he had written to Miller in which he
regretted choosing words suggesting an improper relationship with
Libby, and asserting that she had misled Taubman, but he also
noted, without elaboration, I continue to be troubled by that episode.
In the end, by mutual consent, neither the Times nor Miller would discuss
the terms of her agreement.
The day after Millers departure was announced, last month, Sulzberger
appeared for an hour on the Charlie Rose show, and deflected Roses questions
about Miller and Times mistakes. He said that morale at the paper is doing
just great, we need to move on, Were now past
it, Thats over nowprompting Jack Shafer, the
media critic for the online magazine Slate, to write, Sulzbergers
jabber differs not one whit from the standard bullshitMove along
folks, theres nothing here to seeissued by every politician
and corporate leader who finds himself trapped in the medias crosshairs.
Sulzberger kept trying to steer the discussion to the First Amendment: Lets
go back to why Judy went to jail. Because this has become so intertwined.
And it almost makes her time of eighty-five days in jail seem as though it
was a sideshow, when it was the main ring. When it came to Miller herself
or the newsroom, though, Sulzberger kept avoiding questions, so insistently
that at one point Rose, who is usually a model of bonhomie, practically exploded
Several days later, I met Judy Miller for breakfast. She wore sunglasses,
and looked pale and unusually thin. Gesticulating with both hands, she said,
I dont know what the list of alleged journalistic shortcomings
are, because the ones the Times listed have now all been shown to have been
bogus, or the result of spiteenvyby former colleagues . . . or
were apologized for or clarified by Bill Keller when I left. I mean, I did
not mislead anyone, it turns out. I did not have, quote, entanglements
with Scooter Libby. The journalistic, quote, shortcuts I was alleged to have
takenagreeing to identify Libby, who had once worked on Capitol
Hill, as a former Hill stafferI never took. So the
question is: What did I do? What did I do? I interviewed Scooter Libby and
I got information for a story I wanted to do that I never wrote, was not permitted
to explore. So I went to jail to protect a source, and then I came out of
jail because I was persuaded he wanted me to testify.
Of her W.M.D. stories, she said, I was wrong because my sources were
wrongmore than she conceded at the time of the editors note.
But, aside from faulting herself for being wrong about W.M.D.s and for not
doing a better job of explaining her decision to testify, Miller accepted
no blame. She did not admit the possibility that her sources, among them Ahmad
Chalabi, might have been not only wrong but also skilled at manipulating her.
She said she hoped that what she had done raised the bar and will make
government think before putting a journalist in jail. I hope I will be known
as a reporter who helped get a federal shield law. I fear that the Times
betrayal of me may have weakened that.
Libby, who was indicted on October 28th for perjury, making false statements,
and obstruction of justice, may call Miller and other journalists as witnesses.
If this thing goes to trial, Keller said, it could be an
ugly spectacle, and not something that will be uplifting or help the credibility
of the news profession. When I asked Floyd Abrams to assess whether
the case advanced the cause he has championed, he said that it was worth
fighting, but he added, This case is a no-win situation for the
press. The only question is how to do the least harm. He said, Sometimes
we have to force the courts to rule. Only a willingness to fight when necessary
makes possible some sort of victory in the courts, or some sort of protection
I later asked Sulzberger what the Times had accomplished. We stood up
for a value that is core to this company, he said, and added, I
did not embrace this. It was given to us. I just chose not to walk away from
itI didnt feel the need for a Pentagon Papers case. He also
said, My job is simple. My job is to work with Janet Robinson and Bill
Keller and all of our colleagues and turn this great company, this institution,
into something that will flourish in a digital age. Im going to be judged
on that. Im not going to be judged on this story or that.
Jr., will be judged on hi over-all stewardship of the New York Time Company,
and, perhaps inevitably, he has no become a target, in much the way that Howel
Raines was. On October 25th, Ariann Huffington wrote on her Web site, More
an more, its looking like the biggest problem at the Times is not a
Judy Miller problemits an Arthur Sulzberger problem. A Times
correspondent, faulting him for being rash in the way he had wholeheartedly
supported Miller, said, Arthur believes in the public trust. I respect
him for it. But I keep thinking of Othello, who, looking back on his life,
described himself this way: One that loved not wisely but too well.
An old friend said, Hes not a very nuanced person.
Most people, the friend added, learn to see things in grays as they
get older, but Arthur, Jr., still tends to see things as black
and white. And he still, remarkably, seems drawn to corporate whimsies
like the toy moose. Thats a part of my personality, and sometimes
I control it better than at other times, he said. This is a tough
job and part of my defenseand part of meis that I have a sense
of humor. That probably explains my motorcycle. Sometimes it comes out in
ways where I should show more seriousness. But I enjoy life and fun. During
difficult times, a sense of humor is an important valve.
Recent events have weighed on him, though. Steven Rattner, who meets Sulzberger
at five-forty-five several mornings a week at a gym, said, There were
one or two days he said, I cant come tomorrow. Too much stress.
Sulzberger has reason to feel that critics have overlooked the principled
stand he took on behalf of the newsroom, and also the investment he continues
to make in order to produce what arguably remains the worlds finest
The Times, for instance, under his leadership, has accelerated its spending
on the national edition, and has planned twenty-seven printing plants to be
operating by 2006 (up from twenty-one), which would make possible later deadlines
and quicker distribution of the paper. The national edition has allowed the
Times to become one of the few American newspapers with consistent circulation
gains; between 1998 and 2004, while the papers local circulation followed
the industry trend and fell, nationwide daily circulation rose ten per cent,
to 1.1 million readers. Since Times readers tend to be better educated and
younger, and have higher incomes than the average newspaper reader, they appeal
to advertisers, and the Times is today the only newspaper that generates more
than a billion dollars a year in advertising.
At Sulzbergers prodding, the Times in 1996 started NYTimes.com, the
on-line edition of the newspaper. Today, it is the worlds most heavily
trafficked newspaper Web site, drawing nearly twenty-two million visitors
a month. (The C.E.O. of the Washington Post Company, Donald Graham, who has
had his disagreements with Sulzberger, says, The most important thing
he is doing to position the Times for the future is developing NYTimes.com
into the biggest and most financially successful Web site developed by a media
company.) In 2002, the Times spent seventy-five million dollars to acquire
approximately a one-sixth ownership share of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park,
and the New England Sports Network, which carries the Red Sox games. The same
year, the company spent a hundred million dollars to acquire half ownership
of a digital cable networknow called Discovery Timesfrom Discovery
The center of the company, though, remains its newspapers, including the Boston
Globe, for which Punch Sulzberger paid $1.1 billion in 1993overpaid,
some analysts said at the time. Last year, the Times Company generated just
under three hundred million dollars of profits on $3.3 billion in revenues,
and ninety-five per cent of its revenue came from printthe Times, the
Globe, the International Herald Tribune, and fifteen regional papers, and
their Internet offshoots. The Times was active on the corporate side as well.
In 2000, it forged a real-estate partnership to build a new headquarters for
the paper across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. After a competition,
the Times chose the architect Renzo Piano and announced that it would move
in 2007. The company had to raise more than five hundred million dollars to
finance the building, which put a further squeeze on its resources. In late
2002, with the enthusiastic support of Raines, the Times, which, jointly with
the Washington Post, owned the International Herald Tribune, announced that,
for sixty-five million dollars, it would buy the Posts fifty-per-cent
stake. Donald Graham was angry; he felt that he had been muscled out of the
partnership. Privately, some Post executives compared Sulzberger to the television
mobster Tony Soprano. In a public statement, Graham, joined by the publisher,
Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr., and the executive editor, Leonard Downie, Jr., said,
This decision was made with great reluctance and sadnessand little
choice. . . . If the Post did not sell, the Times said it would start its
own international edition anyway.
In Sulzbergers view, the Tribune was a declining assetlosing
six to eight million dollars a yearand, with the joint ownership
it had, no one was going to take the steps necessary for it to compete
with the European edition of the Wall Street Journal and with the Financial
Times. The Times seemed equally certain that the name of the paper should
be changed to the International New York Times. It was surely a strongly
held view, Michael Golden, a Sulzberger cousin who now serves as the
Tribunes publisher and is also vice-chairman of the Times Company, says.
But the company had done little due diligence; Golden said that, months after
the acquisition, market research revealed that the Times was perceived as
an American paper and the Tribune as international. The company, Golden said,
has added color pages, more marketing dollars, and about eighteen reporters
to the European and Asian Tribune staff, and a Hong Kong office. Because of
these investments, Janet Robinson, the C.E.O., says, the losses are
larger than they wereabout twenty-five million dollars this year,
an executive who knows the numbers said. Graham so far seems to have got the
best of the bargain.
According to Martin A. Nisenholtz, who is responsible for the companys
Internet holdings, online ventures have produced a profit in the past three
years. In September, Nisenholtz launched TimesSelect, which charges $49.95
a year for nonsubscribers to gain access to Times columnists and the papers
archive. There were complaints inside the paper; columnists like Dowd and
Thomas Friedman, who had developed large, loyal readerships online, were said
to be unhappy about the new arrangement. It is still too early to judge the
financial success of this venture; in November, the company announced that
it had recruited about a hundred and thirty-five thousand TimesSelect subscribers
in its first two months. TimesSelect has been helped by a deal that Sulzberger
negotiated in 1994 to reclaim something that the Times had sold: exclusive
digital rights to the papers archive, which can still be retrieved from
LexisNexis. Sulzberger said, We had basically signed away our rights
in perpetuity. . . . We found a window to get out of it, and we jumped through
it. Could you imagine us not owning our morgue?
Since March, the Times has acquired two Internet companies and shares in two
others. The largest of these acquisitions was About.com, for which it paid
$410 million. The site offers visitors the services of five hundred on-staff
guides who will answer questions about many subjects. About.com
is now the eleventh most visited Web site; in October, it attracted twenty-nine
million visitors in the United States. (By contrast, Yahoo! had a hundred
and two million.) Last quarter, the Times reported that About.coms advertising
revenuesabout fifty million dollars this yearrose sixty-seven
per cent over the same period a year before. About was a hidden gem
that people were not focussed on, Nisenholtz says. But analysts say
that About.com is not expected to earn a profit until 2007.
media experts believe that the Times greatest vulnerability is its concentration
on newspapers. Unlike the Washington Post Company, which enjoys generous profits
from investment in its Kaplan educational services division, or E. W. Scripps,
which has lucrative cable investments, the Times has been very risk-averse,
one former Times Company executive said. This executive believes that the
companys insularity comes, inevitably, from the venerable family that
oversees the institution and that controls sixty per cent of the voting stock:
Punch Sulzberger and his three sisters are the third generation of this family;
the fourth generation consists of Arthur, Jr., Michael Golden, and eleven
siblings and cousins. Golden sees this as a strength: Arthur and I,
for obvious reasons, can be direct without concern that someone will not like
what we say and there will be ramifications for our careers. Using that constructively
is valuable for the company. To strengthen what they refer to as the
family glue, the various generations meet twice a year and, when there
is a crisis, Arthur, Jr., arranges family conference calls.
An investment banker who knows Sulzberger sees another side: The virtue
of a family-owned company is that it takes the long view. The risk is that
there is no discipline to force them to operate efficiently. Family ownership
can spur risk-taking, as it did when Rupert Murdochs News Corp. invested
in satellite television in China or Fox News. Entrepreneurs take risks. The
disadvantage comes when you have all that security and not the same drive.
Arthur, to his credit, cares deeply about the journalism. But he lacks passion
for the business side. Sulzberger challenges the notion that the Times
is not diversified: We are a company committed to journalism. That is
our core strength. That is our hedgehog. We are not in the education or cooking
business. You are going to see us make journalism investments. And I include
About.com as journalism. About is about information.
The Times other efforts at diversification have not been impressive.
Its modest broadcast stations enjoy robust profit margins but provide only
a very small slice of the companys revenue. As for the hundred-million-dollar
investment in Discovery Times, one day when I was in Sulzbergers office
he switched on the television set in his bookcase. Ah, there it is,
he said as a picture appeared. He watched for several seconds, said, I
have no idea what that show is, clicked the TV off, and explained, In
and of itself, an investment in a cable station, if that was our only reason
for doing this, would not be overarchingly compelling. It may be a business
to have, but it wouldnt be strategic. What is strategic, he said,
is building a television core into Times journalism, particularly
as we move into a broadband world where NYTimes.com will supply
video as well as text. He did not mention that the national audience for the
channel is negligible, and that it is situated in the cable bleachers. One
senior Times Company executive describes the investment this way: No
one watches it, and no one will watch it. Very few on the business side liked
the deal. It was all Arthur.
For much of
Punch Sulzbergers tenure a chairman, his trusted business partner was
the corporate president, Walter Mattson, and he had devoted friend in Sydney
Gruson, an exnewsma with a fondness for collecting information an gossip,
who was vice-chairman and deputy to the publisher. If newsroom morale was
low, or problem or an opportunity loomed, Gruson was there. Many people at
the Times, together with some of Arthur, Jr.,s friends outside the paper,
believe that the newspapers recent miscues are reminders of the absence
of such a confidant.
To help him manage the company and plan for the future, Arthur, Jr., relies
on Janet Robinson, a former schoolteacher who joined the company in 1983 as
an advertising account executive and was named C.E.O. and president in December,
2004. Sulzberger and Robinson constantly pop into each others office
and exchange e-mails. Theres an extremely strong partnership between
us, she says. We make decisions together.
Late one afternoon last month, Sulzberger and Robinson, who is fifty-five,
sat side by side in a small conference room on the fourteenth floor of the
Times Building to discuss the company. It is a comfortable room with views
of midtown Manhattan, and on the walls are framed front pages of the Times,
including a four-cent edition dated April 15, 1865, and bearing the headline
PRESIDENT LINCOLN SHOT BY AN ASSASSIN, paintings by Sulzbergers
wife, Gail Gregg, who left journalism and has become a successful artist,
and a photograph of Punch. A bookcase contains volumes by generations of Times
writers but also books about exploration and the outdoors, including Ernest
Shackletons The Heart of the Antarctic and Richard E. Byrds
Sulzberger disagreed with the notion that he is insulated from frank advice.
I think Im surrounded by incredibly smart people who get the newsroom,
he said. Janet, in fact, is a remarkable conduit for information from
the newsroom for me. I take nothing away from my father and his wonderful
tenure as publisher and chairman of this company. But Ive got to find
my own management style. Its a different work environment, requiring
less command and controlmuch more bottom up.
Can I just add one thing to that? Robinson said. One of
the things Arthur gets great credit for internally is the fact that hes
extremely inclusive in regard to asking opinions from a variety of sources.
If he only had one source, if it was only me, or our general counsel, or Bill
Keller, it wouldnt be Arthur. Arthur does his homework and seeks out
At least one Times executive, however, says that Robinson discourages open
discussion, explaining that Sulzberger seeks opinions but because of
Janet Robinsons style he doesnt get any. But Michael Golden
believes that Robinson is a superb C.E.O.Her mental organization
and her drive are dramaticand gives Sulzberger the business advice
that he needs. The board member John Akers says that Arthur, Jr., like his
father, is smart enough to know what he is good at and what he is not
good at. The son, Akers says, is very good at creating a collegial
environment among the top people at the Times. He knows that he didnt
grow up in the business world, and Punch knew the same thing. They both got
very good people to lead the business effort.
Like members of the Sulzberger family, Janet Robinson talks persuasively about
the public trust of the newspaper. But financial pressures on
newsroom managers have probably never been so fierce. The Times Company has
cut budgets, including seven hundred jobs at its various properties this year.
Forty-five jobs were lost in the Times newsroom alone, although Keller says
that it is now the same size as five years ago. But, while the
Times, he says, has been treated more gently than others, including
the Boston Globe, his editorial team is looking hard at how to
do more for lessin anticipation that the trend will continue.
At the same time, he worries that were down to muscle. No
doubt, there would have been even deeper cuts had it not been for the profitable
There also seems to be a growing sense that the Times must unite around its
publisher. In recent weeks, Keller and senior editors have begun to speak
out in Sulzbergers defense. Of the Miller case, Keller said, Yes,
Arthur was enthusiastically in favor of going to court. And so was I. In the
much larger scheme of things, Id much rather have a publisher whose
first instinct is to stick up for a reporter rather than to drop into a defensive
crouch and worry about his fiduciary responsibilities. Yes, he
has to worry about that stuff. But, Keller continued, the fact
that his first instinct was We have a reporter at riskthats
something we should be proud of. And although much of the newsroom may
be uneasy with Sulzbergers leadership, his most important constituencies
are the board and the family, and conversations with family members suggest
that there is a united front. The family rallies around Arthur in times
like this, his cousin Dan Cohen said.
is driving in Jerusalem.
He's late for a meeting. He's looking for a
parking place, and can't find one. In desperation, he turns towards heaven and
says, "God, if you find me a parking place, I promise that I'll eat only
kosher, respect Shabbas, and all the holidays."
a place opens up just in front of him.
Moishe turns his
face up to heaven again and says, "Never mind, I just found one."
+ Dumb reasons we hold losing stocks. Click
+ How my private equity fund is doing. Click
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click
+ All turned on by biotech. Click
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available:
Click here. The full audio is available. Click
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click
+ When to sell stocks. Click
This column is about my personal search for the perfect
investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered
with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor.
I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three
reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column
is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect
Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas,
concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address
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