New York Times Begins Planning for Sulzberger Successor

  • New deputy publisher will be named in the next two years
  • Sulzberger's son seen as a top candidate to replace him

New York Times Co. has begun the process of finding a successor to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper’s publisher, and plans to name a new deputy publisher in the next two years who would eventually fill that role.

“I’ve been in my role as publisher for more than 20 years and I’ve hit my mid-sixties, so it should come as no surprise that the task of choosing my successor has begun,” Sulzberger, 64, said Monday at his annual State of The Times address to employees. “Within two years we intend to name a deputy publisher.”

Sulzberger, who succeeded his father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, as publisher in 1992, said the decision will involve the company’s board, senior management and family trustees.

The main candidates to replace him are his son, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger; his nephew, David Perpich; and Sam Dolnick, the son of Sulzberger’s cousin, according to a recent story in New York magazine.

The timeline of his succession remains unclear. The new deputy publisher would be in line to become publisher but wouldn’t immediately assume the top role. And Sulzberger didn’t comment on his future role as company chairman, though he has said previously that he intends to step down as both chairman and publisher when he turns 70.

The Times is controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family through an eight-member family trust, which elects two-thirds of the board through its Class B shares. The remaining one-third of directors are elected by owners of the more commonly traded Class A shares. The dual-stock system is meant to preserve the paper’s editorial independence and help insulate the company from the pressures of Wall Street.

Sulzberger’s successor would take over a company that is still trying to build a sustainable online business as more people get their news online, causing print advertising revenues to decline. Last month, Times Co. posted third-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates after the publisher had its biggest increase in digital subscribers in almost three years. Earlier this month, the Times outlined a plan to double its digital revenue to $800 million by 2020 by increasing the number of paid online readers and drawing more young and international subscribers.

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