The Corner

Sucker Punch

This is a speech given by Punch Sulzberger back in 1994. Punch, father of Pinch, was at that time Chairman of The New York Times. He was in his sixties back then – not old, the age of many a vigorous chief executive around the planet. But he wasn’t one of them. He warms up the crowd with a little light humor:

A number of years ago, in a speech at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I noted that a disproportionate number of this country’s fine newspapers were family owned. My conclusion was simple. Nepotism works.

I wonder if he still feels that way. And, if so, what precise relation to him that Mexican billionaire is. Then he turns his attention to the new technology:

I believe that for a long time to come this information superhighway, far from resembling a modern interstate, will more likely approach a roadway in India: chaotic, crowded and swarming with cows. Or, as one might say, udder confusion.

I’d be interested to know whether his gag writer is still on the Times payroll. Next, in a poignant moment, he brags about how much he over-paid for an even more somnolent monodaily:

We have renewed our faith in the written word by acquiring for more than a billion dollars in stock one of the country’s great newspapers – The Boston Globe.

Hmm. And what would you get for it today, assuming you could find a purchaser?

And finally:

Reader Jones might well have a deep interest in ice hockey, grain futures and foreign policy issues affecting China. A computer can easily assemble such information from many sources. But this compilation is a far cry from a newspaper.

When you buy a newspaper, you aren’t buying news – you’re buying judgment. Already in this low tech world of instant communications there is too much news. That’s the problem. Raw news will do just fine if you’re a computer buff and want to play editor. But I, for one, would rather let a professional take the first raw cut at history and spend my leisure time fishing…

Judgment, serendipity and something left over to wrap the fish, all neatly folded, in living color, and thrown at no extra cost into the bushes. All for just a few cents a day. It’s called a newspaper. And when you add a wee bit of ink for your hands and top it with a snappy editorial to exercise your blood pressure, who needs that elusive interactive information superhighway of communications.

Just point me to the fishing hole! Thank you.

His son has pointed the entire company to the hole.

Mark Steyn — Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

Most Popular

White House

The Mueller Report Should Shock Our Conscience

I've finished reading the entire Mueller report, and I must confess that even as a longtime, quite open critic of Donald Trump, I was surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and brazenness of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections detailed by the Special Counsel's Office. We've become accustomed to Trump making up ... Read More
Education

An Idea for Student Loans: Get Rid of Them

Here is a three-part plan for something practical the federal government could do to relieve college-loan debt. Step 1: The federal government should stop making college loans itself and cease guaranteeing any such loans. Step 2: It should prohibit educational lending by federally regulated financial institutions ... Read More
White House

The Problem with the Mueller Report

So much for collusion. The media conversation has now officially moved on from the obsession of the last two years to obstruction of justice. That’s because the first volume of the voluminous Mueller report, the half devoted to what was supposed to be the underlying crime of a Trump conspiracy with Russia, ... Read More
Sports

Screw York Yankees

You are dead to me. You are a collection of Fredos. The cock has crowed, you pathetic sniveling jerks. The team I have rooted for since 1965, when I first visited the House that Ruth Built, where I hawked peanuts and ice cream a lifetime ago, watched countless games (Guidry striking out 18!), has gotten so ... Read More
White House

MoveOn.GOP?

Some of you will be familiar with a lefty, partisan Democratic organization called MoveOn, formerly MoveOn.Org. It was founded during an investigation into President Bill Clinton’s shenanigans (which were not, Democratic mythology notwithstanding, strictly sexual in nature) and argued that it was time for the ... Read More