The Washington Post's surprise sale to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Monday unleashed a flurry of speculation about whether or not the New York Times, now the only family-owned major paper in America, would be next.
Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, whose family has owned the Times since 1896, on Wednesday afternoon issued a definitive "no."
Sulzberger wrote a memo to employees to assure them that no tech billionaires would be swopping down to buy the paper any time soon.
"There has been much speculation and understandable concern about what this could mean for us," Sulzberger wrote. "Will our family seek to sell The Times? The answer to that is no. The Times is not for sale."
Sulzberger also admitted to being "stunned" and "sad" about the Graham family's decision to sell its paper, and hoped that Bezos would "continue the tradition of excellence that the Grahams achieved in their eight decades of stewardship."
Here's the full memo:
August 7, 2013
We were all taken by surprise on Monday afternoon with the announcement of the Graham family’s decision to sell The Washington Post. Surprise probably doesn’t cover it; we were stunned.
We have spoken to Don Graham and he reiterated to us his desire to put The Washington Post into the hands of someone who he and his family believe is best positioned to help it grow and thrive and compete in the global and digital marketplace. It’s sad to see a great American newspaper family like the Grahams depart from The Post, a publication for which we at The Times have much affection and common ground. While The Times will continue to compete with them for the big story, we hope for the sake of quality journalism and an informed citizenry that Jeff Bezos will continue the tradition of excellence that the Grahams achieved in their eight decades of stewardship.
This leads us to the Ochs-Sulzberger family and this great institution, The New York Times. There has been much speculation and understandable concern about what this could mean for us. Will our family seek to sell The Times? The answer to that is no. The Times is not for sale, and the Trustees of the Ochs-Sulzberger Trust and the rest of the family are united in our commitment to work together with the Company’s Board, senior management and employees to lead The New York Times forward into our global and digital future.
All of us at The Times are aware of the great strides we have made. Our digital subscription model set the standard for the industry and put us on the path forward. The Company is profitable and generates very strong cash flow, which we believe makes us perfectly able to fund our future growth. The Times has both the ideas and the money to pursue innovation.
Mark Thompson has articulated our strategic plan to enable that growth, and we are implementing it beginning with a focus on The New York Times brand, increased investment internationally, in video, in paid products and in brand extensions. Jill Abramson is presiding over a newsroom that is raising the bar with its innovation in storytelling capabilities while maintaining the highest standard of excellence in its journalism. The same can clearly be said for Andy Rosenthal’s leadership in Opinion.
We're incredibly proud of our association with this great institution and, on behalf of the Trustees and the other members of our family, we plan for that association to continue for many years to come.
Arthur and Michael
On behalf of the Ochs-Sulzberger Trustees and family