Former publisher of NY Times visits Idaho

By Tom Michael
 
On Friday October 26, Boise State University hosted a public conversation with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the former publisher of The New York Times. The event was held at the Taco Bell Arena, where he was interviewed on stage by former Boise State University president Bob Kustra. Sulzberger is part of the family that has run the “paper of record” for more than a century. He led the Times for 25 years until he retired in 2016, handing the reins to his son, A.G. Sulzberger.
 
The public discussion in Boise was breezy and conversational and it walked through many of Sulzberger’s successes, including 61 Pulitzer Prizes and a much-expanded readership. He also spoke about missteps, such as the discredited reporting of journalists Jayson Blair and Judith Miller. He presided over a radical digital transformation for the newspaper, during a turbulent time for the industry.
 
In conversation with Kustra, Sulzberger shared stories about his interactions with Donald J. Trump, how he handled censorship in China, and short-lived projects, like video obituaries. He also pointed to the number of Times journalists killed during his time at the helm, which he said was in greater numbers than during both World Wars. He called this present moment, “the most dangerous time for journalism I think we’ve ever seen.”
 
The next morning, members of the local press attended a breakfast with Sulzberger to speak more deeply about media trends. Several members of the Idaho Press Club were in attendance. Sulzberger’s son, the current publisher, is engaged to be married to Molly Messick, a former reporter at Boise State Public Radio.
 
Tom Michael is the general manager of Boise State Public Radio, and is a member of the Idaho Press Club board.