Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of The New York Times Company and the paper’s publisher, said last week that while last years’ sale of The Washington Post was a “shock out of the blue” and tough for him personally, the Times is not for sale.
The Post, which was sold to billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos last summer for $250 million, caught the industry by surprise. The sale immediately focused attention on the Times, which has a similar family-controlled ownership structure and has been struggling financially, much like the Post.
Rather than sell the paper, Sulzberger said that there is a succession plan in place to groom the 5th generation of the family for leadership at the Times:
The family is united around its ownership and its responsibility to maintaining The New York Times and its journalistic integrity and its journalistic independence.
That sounds noble, but I’m betting that the real reason for not selling has more to do with the well-paying jobs the Times provides for various members of the family. Sulzberger was paid $5.3 million in 2013, and the recently restored dividends bring the family another $3.1 million annually.
Thanks to asset sales and a good response to their digital products, the Times has stabilized its finances, though the trend is still negative. While there may be a 5th generation to operate the paper, I doubt there will be a 6th.