First published issue of New-York Daily Times
, on September 18, 1851
The New York Times was founded as the New-York Daily Times on September 18, 1851.[a] Founded by journalist and politician Henry Jarvis Raymond and former banker George Jones, the Times was initially published by Raymond, Jones & Company. Early investors in the company included Edwin B. Morgan, Christopher Morgan, and Edward B. Wesley. Sold for a penny (equivalent to 30 cents today), the inaugural edition attempted to address various speculations on its purpose and positions that preceded its release:
We shall be Conservative, in all cases where we think Conservatism essential to the public good;—and we shall be Radical in everything which may seem to us to require radical treatment and radical reform. We do not believe that everything in Society is either exactly right or exactly wrong;—what is good we desire to preserve and improve;—what is evil, to exterminate, or reform.
In 1852, the newspaper started a western division, The Times of California, which arrived whenever a mail boat from New York docked in California. However, the effort failed once local California newspapers came into prominence.
On September 14, 1857, the newspaper officially shortened its name to The New-York Times. (The hyphen in the city name was dropped on December 1, 1896.) On April 21, 1861, The New York Times began publishing a Sunday edition to offer daily coverage of the Civil War. One of the earliest public controversies it was involved with was the Mortara Affair, the subject of twenty editorials in the Times alone.
The main office of The New York Times was attacked during the New York City Draft Riots. The riots, sparked by the beginning of drafting for the Union Army, began on July 13, 1863. On "Newspaper Row", across from City Hall, Henry Raymond stopped the rioters with Gatling guns, early machine guns, one of which he manned himself. The mob diverted, instead attacking the headquarters of abolitionist publisher Horace Greeley's New York Tribune until being forced to flee by the Brooklyn City Police, who had crossed the East River to help the Manhattan authorities.
In 1869, Henry Raymond died, and George Jones took over as publisher.
The newspaper's influence grew in 1870 and 1871, when it published a series of exposés on William Tweed, leader of the city's Democratic Party—popularly known as "Tammany Hall" (from its early 19th century meeting headquarters)—that led to the end of the Tweed Ring's domination of New York's City Hall. Tweed had offered The New York Times five million dollars (equivalent to 105 million dollars in 2018) to not publish the story.
In the 1880s, The New York Times gradually transitioned from supporting Republican Party candidates in its editorials to becoming more politically independent and analytical. In 1884, the paper supported Democrat Grover Cleveland (former Mayor of Buffalo and Governor of New York State) in his first presidential campaign. While this move cost The New York Times a portion of its readership among its more progressive and Republican readers (revenue declined from $188,000 to $56,000 from 1883–1884), the paper eventually regained most of its lost ground within a few years.
After George Jones died in 1891, Charles Ransom Miller and other New York Times editors raised $1 million dollars (equivalent to $28 million in 2018) to buy the Times, printing it under the New York Times Publishing Company. However, the newspaper found itself in a financial crisis by the Panic of 1893, and by 1896, the newspaper had a circulation of less than 9,000, and was losing $1,000 a day. That year, Adolph Ochs, the publisher of the Chattanooga Times, gained a controlling interest in the company for $75,000.
Shortly after assuming control of the paper, Ochs coined the paper's slogan, "All The News That's Fit To Print". The slogan has appeared in the paper since September 1896, and has been printed in a box in the upper left hand corner of the front page since early 1897. The slogan was a jab at competing papers, such as Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal, which were known for a lurid, sensationalist and often inaccurate reporting of facts and opinions, described by the end of the century as "yellow journalism". Under Ochs' guidance, aided by Carr Van Anda, The New York Times achieved international scope, circulation, and reputation; Sunday circulation went from under 9,000 in 1896 to 780,000 in 1934. In 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War, The New York Times, along with The Times, received the first on-the-spot wireless telegraph transmission from a naval battle: a report of the destruction of the Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet, at the Battle of Port Arthur, from the press-boat Haimun. In 1910, the first air delivery of The New York Times to Philadelphia began. In 1919, The New York Times' first trans-Atlantic delivery to London occurred by dirigible balloon. In 1920, during the 1920 Republican National Convention, a "4 A.M. Airplane Edition" was sent to Chicago by plane, so it could be in the hands of convention delegates by evening.
The New York Times
Ochs died in 1935, and was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. Under his leadership, and that of his son-in-law (and successor), Orvil Dryfoos, the paper extended its breadth and reach, beginning in the 1940s. The crossword began appearing regularly in 1942, and the fashion section first appeared in 1946. The New York Times began an international edition in 1946. (The international edition stopped publishing in 1967, when The New York Times joined the owners of the New York Herald Tribune and The Washington Post to publish the International Herald Tribune in Paris.)
Dryfoos died in 1963, and was succeeded as publisher by his brother-in-law, Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger, who led the Times until 1992, and continued the expansion of the paper.
New York Times v. Sullivan
The paper's involvement in a 1964 libel case helped bring one of the key United States Supreme Court decisions supporting freedom of the press, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. In it, the United States Supreme Court established the "actual malice" standard for press reports about public officials or public figures to be considered defamatory or libelous. The malice standard requires the plaintiff in a defamation or libel case prove the publisher of the statement knew the statement was false or acted in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity. Because of the high burden of proof on the plaintiff, and difficulty in proving malicious intent, such cases by public figures rarely succeed.
The case foreshadowed another major libel case, Steven J. Hatfill v. The New York Times Company, and Nicholas Kristof, resulting from the 2001 anthrax attacks (which included powder in an envelope opened by reporter Judith Miller inside the Times newsroom). Dr. Hatfill became a public figure as a result of insinuations that he was the "likely culprit" put forth in Kristof's columns, which referenced the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation of the case. Dr. Hatfill sued him and the Times for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After years of proceedings, the Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari in the case, leaving Dr. Hatfill's case dismissed since he had not proved malice on the part of the Times.
The Times was involved in a similar case in which it agreed to pay a settlement to Dr. Wen Ho Lee who was falsely accused of espionage.
The Pentagon Papers
In 1971, the Pentagon Papers, a secret United States Department of Defense history of the United States' political and military involvement in the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1967, were given ("leaked") to Neil Sheehan of The New York Times by former State Department official Daniel Ellsberg, with his friend Anthony Russo assisting in copying them. The New York Times began publishing excerpts as a series of articles on June 13. Controversy and lawsuits followed. The papers revealed, among other things, that the government had deliberately expanded its role in the war by conducting air strikes over Laos, raids along the coast of North Vietnam, and offensive actions taken by U.S. Marines well before the public was told about the actions, all while President Lyndon B. Johnson had been promising not to expand the war. The document increased the credibility gap for the U.S. government, and hurt efforts by the Nixon administration to fight the ongoing war.
When The New York Times began publishing its series, President Richard Nixon became incensed. His words to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger included "People have gotta be put to the torch for this sort of thing" and "Let's get the son-of-a-bitch in jail." After failing to get The New York Times to stop publishing, Attorney General John Mitchell and President Nixon obtained a federal court injunction that The New York Times cease publication of excerpts. The newspaper appealed and the case began working through the court system. On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series. Ben Bagdikian, a Post editor, had obtained portions of the papers from Ellsberg. That day the Post received a call from the Assistant Attorney General, William Rehnquist, asking them to stop publishing. When the Post refused, the U.S. Justice Department sought another injunction. The U.S. District court judge refused, and the government appealed. On June 26, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take both cases, merging them into New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 713 (1971). On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court held in a 6–3 decision that the injunctions were unconstitutional prior restraints and that the government had not met the burden of proof required. The justices wrote nine separate opinions, disagreeing on significant substantive issues. While it was generally seen as a victory for those who claim the First Amendment enshrines an absolute right to free speech, many felt it a lukewarm victory, offering little protection for future publishers when claims of national security were at stake.
1970s and 1980s
In the 1970s, the paper introduced a number of new lifestyle sections including Weekend and Home, with the aim of attracting more advertisers and readers. Many criticized the move for betraying the paper's mission.
On September 7, 1976, the paper switched from an eight-column format to a six-column format. The overall page width stayed the same, with each column becoming wider. On September 14, 1987, the Times printed the heaviest ever newspaper, at over 12 pounds (5.4 kg) and 1,612 pages.
1990s and 2000s
In 1992, "Punch" Sulzberger stepped down as publisher; his son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., succeeded him, first as publisher, and then as Chairman of the Board in 1997. The Times was one of the last newspapers to adopt color photography, with the first color photograph on the front page appearing on October 16, 1997.
The New York Times was involved in a significant controversy regarding the allegations surrounding Iraq and weapons of mass destruction in September 2002. A front-page story was authored by Judith Miller which claimed that the Iraqi government was in the process of developing nuclear weapons was published (the source used was Ahmed Chalabi, hostile to the Iraqi government). The Times story was cited by officials such as Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld as part of a campaign to commission the Iraq War. Miller and Sulzberger negotiated a private severance package in 2005.
A speech in the newsroom after announcement of Pulitzer Prize
The New York Times switched to a digital production process sometime before 1980, but only began preserving the resulting digital text that year. In 1983, the Times sold the electronic rights to its articles to LexisNexis. As online distribution of news increased in the 1990s, the Times decided not renew the deal and in 1994 the newspaper regained electronic rights to its articles. On January 22, 1996, NYTimes.com began publishing.
In September 2008, The New York Times announced that it would be combining certain sections effective October 6, 2008, in editions printed in the New York metropolitan area. The changes folded the Metro Section into the main International / National news section and combined Sports and Business (except Saturday through Monday, while Sports continues to be printed as a standalone section). This change also included having the name of the Metro section called New York outside of the Tri-State Area. The presses used by The New York Times can allow four sections to be printed simultaneously; as the paper includes more than four sections on all days with the exception of Saturday, the sections were required to be printed separately in an early press run and collated together. The changes allowed The New York Times to print in four sections Monday through Wednesday, in addition to Saturday. The New York Times' announcement stated that the number of news pages and employee positions would remain unchanged, with the paper realizing cost savings by cutting overtime expenses.
In 2009, the newspaper began production of local inserts in regions outside of the New York area. Beginning October 16, 2009, a two-page "Bay Area" insert was added to copies of the Northern California edition on Fridays and Sundays. The newspaper commenced production of a similar Friday and Sunday insert to the Chicago edition on November 20, 2009. The inserts consist of local news, policy, sports, and culture pieces, usually supported by local advertisements.
Following industry trends, its weekday circulation had fallen in 2009 to fewer than one million.
In August 2007, the paper reduced the physical size of its print edition, cutting the page width from 13.5 inches (34 cm) to a 12 inches (30 cm). This followed similar moves by a roster of other newspapers in the previous ten years, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. The move resulted in a 5% reduction in news space, but (in an era of dwindling circulation and significant advertising revenue losses) also saved about $12 million a year.
Because of its declining sales largely attributed to the rise of news sources online, used especially be younger readers, and the decline of advertising revenue, the newspaper has been going through a downsizing for several years, offering buyouts to workers and cutting expenses, in common with a general trend among print news media.
In December 2012, the Times published "Snow Fall", a six-part article about the 2012 Tunnel Creek avalanche which integrated videos, photos, and interactive graphics and was hailed as a watershed moment for online journalism.
In 2016, reporters for the newspaper were reportedly the target of cyber security breaches. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was reportedly investigating the attacks. The cyber security breaches have been described as possibly being related to cyberattacks that targeted other institutions, such as the Democratic National Committee.
In October 2018, the Times published a 14,218-word investigation into Donald Trump's "self-made" fortune and alleged tax fraud, an 18-month project based on examination of 100,000 pages of documents. The extensive article ran as an eight-page feature in the print edition and also was adapted into a shortened 2,500 word listicle featuring its key takeaways. After the midweek front-page story, the Times also republished the piece as a 12-page "special report" section in the Sunday paper. During the lengthy investigation, Showtime cameras followed the Times' three investigative reporters for a half-hour documentary called The Family Business: Trump and Taxes, which aired the following Sunday. The report won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.
In May 2019, The New York Times announced that it would present a television news program based on news from its individual reporters stationed around the world and that it would premiere on FX and Hulu.
The newspaper's first building was located at 113 Nassau Street in New York City. In 1854, it moved to 138 Nassau Street, and in 1858 to 41 Park Row, making it the first newspaper in New York City housed in a building built specifically for its use.
The newspaper moved its headquarters to the Times Tower, located at 1475 Broadway in 1904, in an area then called Longacre Square, that was later renamed Times Square the newspaper's honor. The top of the building – now known as One Times Square – is the site of the New Year's Eve tradition of lowering a lighted ball, which was begun by the paper. The building is also known for its electronic news ticker – popularly known as "The Zipper" – where headlines crawl around the outside of the building. It is still in use, but has been operated by Dow Jones & Company since 1995. After nine years in its Times Square tower, the newspaper had an annex built at 229 West 43rd Street. After several expansions, the 43rd Street building became the newspaper's main headquarters in 1960 and the Times Tower on Broadway was sold the following year. It served as the newspaper's main printing plant until 1997, when the newspaper opened a state-of-the-art printing plant in the College Point section of the borough of Queens.
A decade later, The New York Times moved its newsroom and businesses headquarters from West 43rd Street to a new tower at 620 Eighth Avenue between West 40th and 41st Streets, in Manhattan – directly across Eighth Avenue from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The new headquarters for the newspaper, known officially as The New York Times Building but unofficially called the new "Times Tower" by many New Yorkers, is a skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano.
In August 2019, in an internal NYT email, obtained by Slate magazine, reported that evidence of bedbug activity was found on all floors of the newsroom.
Gender discrimination in employment
Discriminatory practices used by the paper long restricted women in appointments to editorial positions. The newspaper's first general female reporter was Jane Grant, who described her experience afterwards: "In the beginning I was charged not to reveal the fact that a female had been hired". Other reporters nicknamed her Fluff and she was subjected to considerable hazing. Because of her gender, any promotion was out of the question, according to the then-managing editor. She remained on the staff for fifteen years, interrupted by World War I.
In 1935, Anne McCormick wrote to Arthur Hays Sulzberger: "I hope you won't expect me to revert to 'woman's-point-of-view' stuff." Later, she interviewed major political leaders and appears to have had easier access than those of her colleagues. Even witnesses of her actions were unable to explain how she gained the interviews she did. Clifton Daniel said, "[After World War II,] I'm sure Adenauer called her up and invited her to lunch. She never had to grovel for an appointment." Covering world leaders' speeches after World War II at the National Press Club was limited to men by a Club rule. When women were eventually allowed to hear the speeches directly, they were still not allowed to ask the speakers questions, although men were allowed and did ask, even though some of the women had won Pulitzer Prizes for prior work. Times reporter Maggie Hunter refused to return to the Club after covering one speech on assignment. Nan Robertson's article on the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, was read aloud as anonymous by a professor, who then said: "'It will come as a surprise to you, perhaps, that the reporter is a girl,' he began... [G]asps; amazement in the ranks. 'She had used all her senses, not just her eyes, to convey the smell and feel of the stockyards. She chose a difficult subject, an offensive subject. Her imagery was strong enough to revolt you.'" The New York Times hired Kathleen McLaughlin after ten years at the Chicago Tribune, where "[s]he did a series on maids, going out herself to apply for housekeeping jobs."
The New York Times has had one slogan. Since 1896, the newspaper's slogan has been "All the News That's Fit to Print." In 1896, Adolph Ochs held a competition to attempt to find a replacement slogan, offering a $100 prize for the best one. Entries included "News, Not Nausea"; "In One Word: Adequate"; "News Without Noise"; "Out Heralds The Herald, Informs The World, and Extinguishes The Sun"; "The Public Press is a Public Trust"; and the winner of the competition, "All the world's news, but not a school for scandal." On May 10, 1960, Wright Patman asked the FTC to investigate whether The New York Times's slogan was misleading or false advertising. Within 10 days, the FTC responded that it was not.
Again in 1996, a competition was held to find a new slogan, this time for NYTimes.com. Over 8,000 entries were submitted. Again however, "All the News That's Fit to Print," was found to be the best.