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March 12: Husband of the Grey Lady

March 12, 2013

cf7117bde16fb18dfb74d7e95e05c279Adolph S. Ochs, the publisher who built the New York Times into an international newspaper of record and renown, was born in Cincinnati on this date in 1858. Ochs was the eldest of the six children of parents who “belonged to the group of German liberals and intellectuals who had been driven from home by the repressive measures of autocratic governments, against which the revolution of 1848 was an ineffectual protest,” according to the April 9, 1935 Times obituary of Ochs. The family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee after the Civil War, where Adolph became involved in the newspaper industry. At 19, he borrowed $250 to purchase a controlling interest in The Chattanooga Times, and in 1896, at 38, he again borrowed money to purchase the Times in New York, a paper with 9,000 readers. Ochs cut the paper’s price from 3¢ to a penny, and built it to a circulation of 100,000 within three years. He was married to Effie Wise, the daughter of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, who founded Reform Judaism in America. Ochs was also active in the early years of the Anti-Defamation League and helped fight against the stereotyping of Jews in the American press.

“All the news that’s fit to print.” —Adolph S. Ochs

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