Sulzberger's Starstruck Moment

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 26, 2006

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman and publisher of the New York Times put on a strong defense of quality mainstream journalism at a jam-packed session of the World Economic Forum called “Today’s News—Too Much of a Good Thing.” But the very serious discussion about the future of the news business took a surreal turn when Brad Pitt and Anjelina Jolie, who were in the audience during the hour-long discussion, walked up at the end to shake the hands of the panelists, including the stunned Sulzberger. Jim Kelley, managing editor of Time magazine, who was sitting next to Sulzberger on the panel also got the hand shakes from the cinematic duo. As they and the participants left the room, they found the entire Congress Hall jam-packed with cameras and hundreds of people waiting to catch a glimpse of Pitt and Jolie. Kelley and Sulzberger pushed their way through the crowd and Kelley turned to Sulzberger and said that “they just came up and said ‘good job.’” Sulzberger said “I know. It was surreal.”

Before the surreal moment, however, Sulzberger told the audience that “our bet is that quality pays.” He noted that New York Times online is the number one news site in terms of time spent by viewers, with Google News No. 2 and the Washington Post third. He took a jab at Google and Yahoo’ by noting that “Google and Yahoo made judgements in China that would be different judgements that the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune would make.” He said that the only journalist working for the Times who was in jail was in Beijing. “He was in jail for a year before he was allowed to see a lawyer.”

 

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