The Man Behind the 'Times': The Portrait of a Publisher




‘THE sole trouble virtue demands,’ said Hume, ‘is that of just calculation and the steady preference of the greater happiness.’ ‘Success,’ says Mr. Adolph S. Ochs, the managing owner of the New York Times, ‘is simply won by the practice of the ordinary virtues.’ Clearly the famous utilitarian and the eminent publisher agree. But while Hume’s naïveté is complex and artful, Mr. Ochs’s is palpably ingenuous. He just naturally believes what Hume was forced to conclude from sheer skepticism. And between skepticism and animal faith the advantage is all with faith.

Being ex animo certain, Mr. Ochs does not hesitate to share the secret of his simple success. ‘I really can see no excuse,’ he insists, ‘for any healthy young man, born of self-respecting parents, not to succeed in the fullest sense of the term. It took no genius to build the Times; just hard work, common sense, self-reliance, and honesty.’ After faithfully exercising these ‘ordinary virtues,’ Mr. Ochs was able to celebrate, last August 18, the thirtieth anniversary of his ownership of the New York Times by making on his editorial page some highly satisfactory observations. ‘When [the Times] passed into the ownership and control of the present management [its] daily circulation . . . had dropped to 9000. The regular employees numbered 300, and the annual gross income was $500,000. At the present time the New York Times has an average daily circulation of 370,000 and 625,000 on Sunday; has over 3000 regular employees, and has an annual gross income of about $25,000,000.’ Such phenomenal success has so absolutely convinced Mr. Ochs that the exercise of the ‘ordinary virtues’ is the best policy that he is willing to bet on them. He would gladly organize a Company to Assure Success.

‘My Company to Assure Success would ask of its policyholders nothing out of the ordinary, no special brilliance, no abnormal talents, no inordinate industry even. In passing upon applicants for success it would, however, inquire rather carefully into a youth’s antecedents and parents, for the first thing is to be well born. Satisfied on this point, the Company would investigate the youth’s record to date, and if he was found to have done moderately well at school, if he had established a reasonably good reputation in character, and if he possessed good health, — good health is essential, — then he would be eligible.

‘In issuing this policy, about all the rules and conditions would be: “You must strive faithfully to live up to the precepts taught you as a child by your mother. You must be industrious, temperate, and honest. You must give diligent attention to your business, lead a clean, honorable life, and deserve as well as try to succeed.’ ”

Mr. Ochs’s friends smile indulgently. His critics smile cynically. Both miss the point. It is not his naïveté, but the obsession of his naïveté, which matters — an obsession which is completely hidden even from himself by a rare personal charm. It is his absolute faith in the ‘ordinary virtues’ which conquered for him the world of his choice. And though Mr. Ochs is ‘no genius,’ he touches genius in the psychological unawareness with which his virtues function, in the unconscious virtuosity with which he orchestrates them. There is something organic, rather than moral, about Mr. Ochs’s decencies.

His virtues fall into the rhythm of his age. He is keenly aware of its instruments and never dubious of its fundamentals. His high courage never challenges the established order, though it is often extremely daring in its uses. His high sense of honor merely bespeaks his rights and duties as a freeman in established opinion. His uncanny shrewdness is never ulterior, for his mental processes function as though they were dipped in a utilitarian solution whose chemistry he does not know. Mr. Ochs is not merely an honest, but a congenital conformist. He is the living norm of the median culture of American life. In turn his times have rewarded him with the highest protective coloration. It is this protection which enabled him to build our only national newspaper.

Mr. Ochs can ‘go to bed’ with his paper and rest calmly between its lines in the unconscious certainty that his personality will color every word in each of the eight columns of the thirty to forty pages of the daily Times. In the Mid-Week Pictorial, in the Annalist, in Current History, Mr. Ochs stops for a moment to review synoptically the fugitive news of the day. And on Sunday he dresses up in two-hundredodd pages of the most perfect typography, in exquisite rotogravure, in the beautiful half-tones of the Magazine Section and Book Review, in dignified special features. The Sunday Times is really Mr. Ochs’s temple, in which he does homage to the American environment which blessed his ‘ordinary virtues’ so prodigally. Mr. Ochs’s career reaffirms the Aristotelian dictum that man is an institutional case — in proportion to his success. The Times reflects our complex institutional culture in faithful perfection. No wonder the best journalistic craftsmen have drifted to Mr. Ochs as their publisher. Louis Wiley is by all odds the most competent American newspaper manager. Carr V. Van Anda and Frederick T. Birchall are beyond the shadow of a doubt the greatest American news gatherers. Rollo Ogden is a distinguished newspaper editor. The heads of the various departments are among the leading national experts. It is around the simple magnet of Mr. Ochs’s sensibility to the world as it is that these men have built the most highly technical compass to follow the phenomenology of its news.


Obviously Mr. Ochs’s conscious reasons for his success, though absolutely sincere, do not explain. The only way to analyze his intrinsic processes, which alone are significant, is by reading critically the Times. It is only by looking behind its news and advertising and editorial policy, in their trinitarian balance, that we can discover the real Mr. Ochs.

The main reason for Mr. Ochs’s success as a newsman is in fact very simple. He caught the idea of mass production at just the right time in the New York newspaper field. In this respect the success of the Times is the success of Ivory Soap, which is ninety-nine and a fraction of a per cent pure, and whose fractional impurity cannot be humanly helped. The Times is as much of a newspaper as its management can humanly make it. It has no leg shows, side shows, or circuses. It employs no middle-aged, run-down newspaper men to grind out advice to the lovelorn. It peddles no funny sheets, Krazy Kats, Nize Babies, or humor by Andy Gump, Mutt and Jeff, and F. P. A. Mr. Ochs held to the conviction that the job of a newspaper is to print news even in the early days of his management of the Times, when it seemed that such a high-minded policy in the midst of the yellow war between Hearst and Pulitzer, complicated by the younger Bennett’s brilliant manufacture of news, was heading him straight for bankruptcy. And as one reads the Times at the breakfast table, with the certainty that without it one would miss literally most of the news, one cannot help but appreciate that Mr. Ochs’s simple courage is a national asset.

To-day Mr. Ochs proudly justifies his original judgment. ‘When I first came to New York,’ he told me, ‘I had hopes that there might be at least 30,000 intelligent, serious, high-grade people who would appreciate this kind of newspaper. But of course I never dared to hope for all this’—and his large blue eyes slowly swept his magnificent office, and their gaze trailed out of the window and rested in wistful gratefulness on the imperial city which his humble decency conquered.

Mr. Ochs is both right and wrong. His strength lies in just this happy mixture of rightness and wrongness, in the oversimplification of his reasons for his motives, an inadequacy which saves these motives from the inhibitions of self-analysis. Mr. Ochs found not merely 30,000 but an average week-day and Sunday circulation of over 400,000. He never found 30,000 readers of the type he had in mind. An astute observer on the Times staff ‘guessed’ that ‘probably no more than 10,000 people are capable of keeping up with the excellence of the Times.’ The other 300,000 buy it because of the ineradicable characteristic of ‘respectability’ to appear more intelligent than it is. It is the intelligent minority, from the most reactionary to the most radical, which finds it necessary to read all about the Dawes Plan, the Chinese Consortium; which has to wade through the full speeches of high-placed politicians; which wants to know how Article X in the League Covenant and Article XXVII in the Mexican Constitution are working out. The rest buy the Times because the best have to read it. ‘The Times is the sort of newspaper,’ Mr. Ochs once innocently said, ‘which no one needs to be ashamed to be seen reading.’ This, rather than its excellence, is its main selling asset.

If one reads the Hall-Mills murder case in the Hearst press one is frankly interested in murder. But if one reads almost twice as much about it in the Times, — where one could if one wished also read the latest news of the World Court or the Williamstown Institute, — then one has a sociological interest in crime. If one reads in the gutter tabloids all the details of the mob hysteria at Sheik Valentino’s death, one is just another member of the mob. But if one reads about it in the Times, then one is a student of the hysteria. It is in the Times that we can all worship the Idols of the Cave without being caught in our idolatry.

Yet in the long run the ‘respectable’ majority is bound to fall way behind the intelligent minority. This gap the Times bridges by its very encyclopædism, which covers all special interests, and appeals to each reader both professionally and avocationally. The financier, the industrialist, the big and the lesser business man, the student of social politics, the professional man, can all follow in the Times the news of their own worlds, the news of each other’s world, and their own fancy in the news of the world in general. The Times has a composite reader. And ‘all the news that’s fit to print’ is simply the news which appeals to the best composite reader, who thereby is naturally raised into an ‘intelligent, serious, high-grade’ fellow.

It is because Mr. Ochs in his own person represents the median of our national culture that he is by all odds the best judge on his staff as to what news is ‘fit to print.’ And he is peculiarly gifted in presenting the social panorama by the very fact that his own fabulous news sense is entirely unhampered by an interpretative censor. He reads reams of details on Stalin’s victory over Zinovieff; on General Pilsudski’s senseless revolution in Poland; on the British general strike; on the reaction in Italy and Spain; on the political assassinations in Greece and Turkey; on the troubles of the Catholic Church in Mexico and its triumph in Chicago; on politics in Washington, London, and Paris; on the doings of big business and labor. But the inner drift of this panorama fortunately escapes him, which accounts for his success in impersonal journalism. The great value of the Times lies in the fact that it is the best commercial photographer of the world’s happenings.

The very volume and expense of this policy require a high expertness in the gathering of news, a delicate efficiency in management, in presentation, in the whole complex business administration of the modern newspaper. In the technique of newspaper building and owning Mr. Ochs has no rival. In this technique, in fact, he is not merely instinctively shrewd, but philosophical, articulate, and expert. His occasional talks on the industrial arts of newspaper management, especially on advertising policy, are pearls of wisdom compared to the usually fatuous professionalism of the ‘high-power’ executive and the pseudoscientific lingo of the university business schools. The Times of course has to pay the price of encyclopædism by being often dreadfully overwritten, with long paragraphs connected by motley conjunctions. And its tendency toward anonymity, and the somewhat Philistine flavor of its respectability, do not help its style. But its mechanical composition is flawless. Its craftsmanship has been especially perfected since 1914. The World War and the consequent world unrest, our own rapid transition from debtor nation to world empire, the generally accelerated kaleidoscope of latter-day social events, constantly require a technical vigilance which gives infinite scope to Mr. Ochs’s training and talents as an administrative journalist. The Times has risen to its present position as the world’s greatest newspaper organization in the period of the world’s greatest unrest. And naturally this has only served to strengthen Mr. Ochs’s belief that this is a pretty nice world after all.

No newspaper is freer from outside control. Mr. Ochs is inordinately proud, as he has every right to be, that the Times has no Ivory Towers, no Sacred Cows. The high-placed in any field are to him not Sacred Cows but high-bred Holsteins, provided they live up to their breeding. Hence his resentment flares up the more sternly when they indicate a meretricious desire for preferential grazing ground in his columns.

There is no doubt that the Times is given to the Idols of Authority. But in the nature of the case the views and deeds of those in authority are news, — very important news, — always were, and always will be. What Messrs. Coolidge and Baldwin and Trotsky think of politics; what Messrs. Green and Weisbord think of the Passaic strike; what Messrs. Hoover and Gary think of business; or even what Mr. Tunney thinks of the uppercut, or Miss Ederle thinks of the Australian crawl, is important. The radical paper is a failure as a newspaper because it is iconoclastic. The function of the radical press is not so much to print news as to propagate social conditions in which its prejudices will become news. The only successful Socialist newspapers in this country, the Jewish Daily Forward and the Milwaukee Leader, are successful because Socialism is in authority on the East Side of New York and in Milwaukee, and they have news to report.

Mr. Ochs’s respect for authority is natural, free, and independent. In fact the Times respects authority far less in the field of social and economic politics than in the intellectual professions, where none but ideological radicals could possibly accuse it of ulterior motives. It finds it often necessary to disagree with powerful politicians and the leaders in vested life. But the bigwigs in science, education, letters, and arts it respects indiscriminately. When the evolutionary controversy was at its height the Times did not invite Professor Morgan of Columbia or Professor Carlson of the University of Chicago or an expert of equally high standing to clarify the issue. It permitted itself to be used by notorious publicity seekers in high academic positions, whose views on evolution are more or less of a joke among professional scientists. And because of its very exhaustiveness the Times printed more nonsense on this subject than any other paper in the country.


The advertising policy of the Times is both sensitively honorable and technically extremely high. It exercises both an alert and a relevant censorship. Once or twice a week the Times shrewdly advertises ‘its regret for the necessity of the omission of eight (or six or seven) columns of advertising’ on account of the pressure of news, never failing to explain how the individual advertiser may avoid such annoyance in future.

In the early history of Mr. Ochs’s ownership a very large advertiser asked for certain considerations which then were not considered peculiarly offensive. A correspondence ensued. Mr. Ochs finally wrote: ‘You must excuse me from discussing with you the policy of the New York Times. . . . The Times, as long as it is under its present management, will endeavor to get along without your business.’ Later on, the Times lost an advertiser whose business was worth over $1,000,000 because of a misunderstanding in which Mr. Ochs preferred to grant the benefit of the doubt to his own sense of freedom. The honor roll of such instances is the best testimony to the meticulousness of his independence. His independence of the advertiser is really due largely to his fine sense of workmanship, which is merely the other side of his shield of honor. The advertiser who is cheap enough to want to influence a newspaper’s policy will sooner or later deface its advertising space; and in the long run this kind of independence secured for the Times the ‘quality’ market, which forces the individual advertiser to conform to its standards in spite of its touch of insouciance.

Mr. Ochs won the high-quality market of advertising in very much the same way in which he won the highgrade reader. Just as the news policy of the Times appeals to the rank and file of its readers through their imitativeness of the intelligent minority, so the advertising in the Times is framed to appeal to the great middle class through an upper minority of taste.


Mr. Ochs is convinced that his is the freest editorial page in the world. ‘I never in my life asked any man to write one word in which he did not believe.’ And there are certainly few papers, if any, in which a more fastidious regard is paid to the writer’s conscience. But it is an old ethical truism that respect for personality in itself is one of the strongest of influences. Mr. Munsey, who was in the habit of tearing up editorials of which he disapproved in the face of their writers, had to write the editorials nearest his heart with his own pen. At any rate to write, day in and day out, editorials for the Times without due regard for Mr. Ochs’s opinions is inconceivable, for the sufficient reason that Mr. Ochs is the Times. There is no newspaper which, in the long run, would keep on buying articles wholesale which it would reject retail — as special articles. And on the Times this is especially true, for Mr. Ochs knows what he wants by just being himself.

Yet every personality fights shy as much as possible of the influence of another even in agreement, which probably accounts for the unusually large number of noncontroversial or even idyllic topics on the editorial page of the Times. Whatever differences of personality, if not in fundamental opinion, there may be between Mr. Ochs and his editorial writers are at least in part amiably sublimated in polite reflections. A recent, quite typical, Times editorial page has five editorials out of eight on the following subjects: A Fine Officer Gone; English and American Litterers; The Discoverer of Oxygen; The Arts in the West; A Great Maltese Writer. The other three editorials were of the usual liberal-conservative ‘broadcloth’ variety. They were undoubtedly written by men who did not object to them. And they certainly expressed Mr. Ochs’s views to a nicety.

What is far more interesting is the psychological mechanism of Mr. Ochs’s influence, not on the peripheral, but on the central opinions of the editorial writer. The Times staff member who writes its editorials on Russia, one of the most delicately ironic of American essayists, is a liberal with an early Socialist background. Were he an editor on a liberal paper, it is quite likely that his indictment of Communism would be of the conventional semisympathetic ‘objective’ variety. On the Times, where his liberalism is under a steady tug to the Right, Bolshevism has resuscitated his earlier Socialist feelings in all their antiCommunist bitterness. And so one can read once or twice a week in a Times editorial that curious Social-Democratic argument according to which the Russian experiment is the exact opposite of Socialism and is betraying it by its rapid drift toward capitalism. All kinds of economic statistics and Russian government edicts are cited to prove this strange illusion. Mr. Ochs, whose common sense tells him that the trouble with Bolshevism, in the light of American democracy, lies not in its Socialist failure, but, exceptis excipiendis, in its Socialist success, is of course very much pleased to learn that even radicals have no use for it, and he is even more pleased to learn that Russia is gradually returning to the capitalist economy. Furthermore, his sense of news scents Russian recognition in the comparatively near future, and he appreciates editorials which both indict Bolshevism and yet analyze changes in Russia which will render her worthy of our recognition. Mr. Ochs is pleased. The writer enjoys his militant opinion. And the Times editorial public is pleased for Mr. Ochs’s reasons. His feelings and public opinion are usually in tune.

Mr. Ochs’s very sensibility to public opinion shields him from the public view. Nothing delights him more than his own low visibility in his paper, which sees everything. It is this paradox which gives his modesty a curiously elated and childlike joy. His modesty is proud of his handiwork. This ambivalence of pride and simplicity is one of his greatest charms. Mr. Ochs is indeed one of those fortunate mortals whose virtues never cheat him of the pleasures of their corresponding vices. With excellent taste he realizes that to be behind the Times gives him a great deal more self-feeling than he would get were he in front of it. A born newsman, he knows instinctively that there is no publicity which compares with genuine modesty — if one is powerful. The editors and managers of the Times, being important people, take their legitimate place in the public view. Mr. Wiley is socially prominent. Dr. Finley seems to serve on every board. Messrs. Ogden and Van Anda are nationally known journalists. And for whom do they work? For Mr. Ochs.


The adjustment between Mr. Ochs and his environment is so perfect that it is a beautifully simple matter to trace the morphology of this adaptation. Mr. Ochs is an abnormally normal heir of his background, and a perfectly well behaved child of the age. It is this adjustment which gave him that marvelous power of prestidigitation with his ‘ordinary virtues’ which makes the Times look like a miracle of ‘genius’ while in fact it is merely the reward of a long training in these virtues.

Adolph S. Ochs was born on March 12, 1858, in Cincinnati. He was born strategically, not merely of ‘selfrespecting,’ but of just the right combination of parents for his subsequent career. His father, Julius Ochs, came to this country from Bavaria in 1846, one of the very first refugee immigrants of the revolutionary movement which broke out two years later. When the Civil War was declared Julius Ochs joined the Union Army. His revolutionary youth in Germany and the Civil War completely exhausted whatever pugnacity there may have been in his gentle nature. In 1865, when little Adolph was seven, Julius Ochs moved his family to Knoxville, Tennessee, then a city of less than ten thousand. There he settled down to a life of good citizenship, and the citizens of Knoxville rewarded him with the justiceship of the peace. In 1872 he experienced a slight liberal resurgence and served as a delegate to the Liberal Convention in Cincinnati which nominated Greeley for President. But after that he lived in complete peace. He accepted the universe of the small-town Southern community. He joined the Royal Arch Masons, the American Legion of Honor, the B’nai B’rith, the Royal Arcanum, the Schiller Lodge, and one or two other orders which in those days had a libertarian complexion so sadly lacking in their present-day tawdry counterparts. He served as a lay reform rabbi of the small Jewish community, and as the religious teacher of its youth.

One of our most noted contemporary sociologists lived as a boy just around the corner from the Ochs home. ‘As I look back,’ he told me, ‘I appreciate that Julius Ochs was probably one of the most cultivated men in the whole Reconstruction South. His wide reading, his whimsical knowledge, above all his exquisite kindness in the smallest things, still linger with me.’ ‘My father,’ says Mr. Ochs, ‘was a very lovable and a most versatile man, but he was not built for success.’ Mr. Ochs could not have possibly issued a ‘ success policy ’ to his father. His were not the ordinary but the ineffable virtues.

It is from the atmosphere of his father that the son inherited his own deep respect for personality, his abiding kindliness. The wages on the Times are the highest. Discharges for reasons of economy and except for real cause are unknown. The Times really succeeds remarkably well for such a large institution in being a ‘happy family.’ Its welfare department, its old age and sickness pensions, have nothing about them of that meretricious counterreformation with which so many employers are meeting social unrest. Mr. Ochs’s annual Christmas campaign for the Hundred Neediest Cases, whatever its economic wisdom, is so free of all ‘scientific’ social work that it is very much like the delicate charity of Julius Ochs. And it is no doubt in the same spirit that the Times always keeps on its pay roll one or two broken-down newspaper men who have seen better days.

But the qualities which assured his success Mr. Ochs undoubtedly got from his mother. It is not platitude but a profound personal experience which makes Mr. Ochs advise the young man about to take out a ‘success policy’: ‘You must strive faithfully to live up to the precepts taught you as a child by your mother.’ Bertha Levy Ochs was an active, dominant, extraordinarily effective personality, and it was she who built the common virtues into young Adolph with a master hand.

At the age of fifteen, in the revolutionary year of ’48, she made a daring revolutionary gesture one evening in Heidelberg. The next morning she caught the sailing vessel for America. She joined an uncle in New Orleans and grew up in the traditions of the conservative South, which proved very congenial to her essentially conservative nature. During the Civil War her ardent sympathies were with the Confederacy. While her husband was stationed as a captain in the Union Army in Cincinnati, she would wheel across the bridge to Covington a baby carriage packed with quinine destined for the Confederate Army, while little Adolph sat in blissful and round-eyed innocence on top of this contraband, as unaware of social conflict then as he has remained ever since. ‘Yes,’ Mr. Ochs reminisces with affectionate disapproval, ‘Mother gave Father a lot of trouble in those days.’ And, indeed, for a Southern belle and a mother in Israel to defy her husband and an entire army was no mean assertion in early militant feminism.

Bertha Ochs began the task of training little Adolph in her own habits of thrift, industry, honesty, and responsibility when he was a mere child. Under her combination of ethical and vocational guidance he became a prodigy in the common virtues and their application. At the age of eleven he began delivering newspapers for the Knoxville Chronicle at four o’clock every morning. At the age of fifteen he rose to printer’s devil. Two years later he became a practical printer on the Louisville Courier Journal. Then he returned to Knoxville as a compositor on the Daily Tribune. There he rose in rapid succession to assistant foreman in the composing room, to star reporter, and finally to the position of business manager. At the age of nineteen he became the manager of the Chattanooga Daily Dispatch. In 1878 the Dispatch failed and Mr. Ochs became the receiver. He liquidated its debts and a few months later, at the age of twenty, he consolidated it with the Chattanooga Times, of which he gained control with two hundred and fifty borrowed dollars. He still owns the Chattanooga Times.

During these nine formative years from eleven to twenty, which constituted a perfect apprenticeship for Mr. Ochs’s subsequent career, his mother constantly extended her personality through him. Gradually young Adolph took over one family responsibility after another under her guidance. Julius Ochs became the nominal treasurer of the Chattanooga Times. But most of the father’s life was spent in teaching, in charity, in living up to his own conceptions of good citizenship. It was Adolph who sent two younger brothers through college, forgoing such an education himself, and this left in him an indelible wistfulness for formal education and no doubt accounts for the Times’s vast admiration of professors.

This intimate tutelage over his brothers goes back as far as 1872, when Adolph was fourteen, George eleven, and Milton eight. Though Adolph was going to school and getting up at four in the morning to deliver his newspapers, he found that his evenings were being wasted. And so he organized a company with George and Milton to sell refreshments at Staub’s Opera House. And here is the contract, in its original spelling, written on the stationery of Julius Ochs, Justice of the Peace and Notary Public, and ‘witnessed’ by the tiny tot sisters.



This day of Nov. 1/72,
We Adolph, George and Milton Ochs,
do hereby agree to become partners,
In selling refreshment at Staub Opera house,
in the city of Knoxville Tenn, for
the term of one year ending Nov 1/73
under the firm name of Ochs Bros,
It is agreed that the sum invested
by Julius Ochs be paid to the said
Julius Ochs from the sale of the goods,
It is also hereby agreed, that Adolph Ochs
give his attention to the finicial matters
and to the selling and buying goods,
And that George and Milton Ochs, tend
to the selling of goods through the
Opera House, and it is also hereby agreed
That each shall have an equal share
in the Buisness and that the Profits be divided

witnessed by
Bertha Ochs (s)
Nannie Ochs (s)

Signed by
(Adolph S. Ochs (s)
(George W. Ochs (s)
(Milton Ochs (s)

This partnership has held good for fifty-four years. George and Milton are still working for Adolph. George W. Ochs Oakes is now the editor of Current History. Milton B. Ochs is the managing editor of the Chattanooga Times.


The story of the New York Times under Mr. Ochs is very simply told. In the spring of 1896 he came to New York in response to a wire from a friend who was unofficially authorized to offer him the management of the New York Mercury, which somewhat resembled the present-day Morning Telegraph. Mr. Ochs was but mildly interested. And while he hesitated Henry Alloway, the Wall Street reporter of the New York Times, informed him that the Times could be purchased, as it was in extreme financial difficulties. Mr. Ochs became interested, and after a few weeks of negotiation he acquired the newspaper by a contract that gave him the controlling interest when he had for three consecutive years earned its expenses. The series of financial transactions which he manæuvred for the control of the reorganized company was so skillful that all he ever had to invest for his majority interest was $75,000.

On August 18, 1896, he took charge. The old staff was kept on. Mr. Ochs religiously lived up to his ideas of news. In two years he was nearly ‘ broke.’ His friends advised him to raise the price of the paper from three cents to five. Then he took a desperate chance, which was a stroke of genius. He cut the price to one cent. Circulation went up, advertising came in. In 1900 the Times evenly turned the corner of the century. In 1901-02 it made $153,000.

Luck helped. The younger Bennett threw away his chances on the Herald. He was too erratic to follow his marvelous nose for news — news which he created when nothing spectacular happened. Greeley was primarily interested in Fourier and Owen. Godkin tried valiantly to live up to the political ideals of Cobden and Bright . Dana was busy with style and wit. Later on, Munsey began his career of murdering newspapers. The Press, the morning Sun, and finally the Herald, were killed. And the Times prospered. To-day its profits are around $4,000,000 a year, of which almost ninety-seven per cent are ploughed back into the business. It is the world’s richest newspaper; and, I think, also its best — as a newspaper.

In 1918 the Times was awarded the first Pulitzer Gold Medal in Journalism. Mr. Ochs is a member of the Executive Committee of the Associated Press. His power over public information is incalculable. He is a Commander of the Legion of Honor, an honorary Master of Yale, a Doctor of Laws of Columbia, and a Doctor of Letters of New York and Chattanooga Universities. But he himself is essentially the same simple boy who fifty-seven years ago ran a newspaper route in Knoxville. All this success was implicit in his mother’s encouragement of the ‘ordinary virtues.’ To doubt this success is to doubt her. And to it he clings with childlike simplicity. In his ingenuousness are all the resources of his personality.


Mr. Ochs is honest enough to suit the most sensitive honorableness. He could not sincerely manage the Times differently. The tower of the Times leans backward in meticulous propriety. By his own works Mr. Ochs has proven to himself the social value of impersonal journalism. But deep in him there is a balked censor which hesitatingly points to Garrison, Greeley, Bowles, Godkin, Villard, to the ‘crusaders’ of personal journalism. Mr. Ochs represses this censor; for he finely perceives that there is something very precious in the ‘follies’of these crusaders, while his ‘common sense’ indicts these follies as querulous and absurd. Hence his extraordinary touchiness to all but conservative criticism. Hence the subtle defensive and protesting note about his success. ‘I would trust these crusaders with my last will and testament, but with an idea I would not trust them around the corner,’ he told me. Their ideas disturb his childlike fixation in the ordinary virtues.

The critic of the Times interprets this protest as a sense of guilt. It is the reverse. It betokens not a guilty but a baffled conscience, which is a very delicate conscience. Mr. Ochs cannot bear to have his simple recipe of life doubted, because that is all he believes in. And when he defends his deep-felt conviction that the Times is merely the logical reward of simple integrity a childlike hurt steals into his luminous eyes which is irresistibly human.

Possibly it would have been better if the spirit of Julius Ochs had now and then interfered with the success of the Times.