Adolph Ochs

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Adolph Simon Ochs (March 12, 1858–April 8, 1935) was an American newspaper publisher and former owner of The New York Times and The Chattanooga Times (now the Chattanooga Times Free Press).


Early life and career

Ochs was born to German-Jewish immigrants, Julius and Bertha Levy Ochs, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The family moved south to Knoxville, Tennessee, due to his mother's sympathies during the Civil War. Julius sided with the Union during the war, but it didn't separate the household. Ochs began his newspaper career there at age 11, leaving grammar school to become an apprentice typesetter, known in that era as a "printer's devil". He worked at the Knoxville Chronicle under Captain William Rule (1839–1928), the editor who became his mentor. His siblings also worked at the newspaper to supplement the income of their father, a lay rabbi for Knoxville's small Jewish community. The Knoxville Chronicle was the only Republican, pro-Reconstruction, newspaper in the city, but Ochs counted Father Ryan, the Poet-Priest of the Confederacy, among his customers.[1]

Chattanooga Times and New York Times

At the age of 19, he borrowed $250 to purchase a controlling interest in The Chattanooga Times, becoming its publisher. In 1896, at the age of 38, he again borrowed money to purchase The New York Times, a money-losing newspaper that had a wide range of competitors in New York City. In 1904, he hired Carr Van Anda as his managing editor. Their focus on objective news reporting, in a time when newspapers were openly and highly partisan, and a well-timed price decrease (from 3¢ per issue to 1¢) led to its rescue from near oblivion. The paper's readership increased from 9,000 at the time of his purchase to 780,000 by the 1920s.

In 1904, Ochs moved the New York Times to a newly-built building on Longacre Square in Manhattan, which the City of New York then renamed as Times Square. On New Year's Eve 1904, he had pyrotechnists illuminate his new building at One Times Square with a fireworks show from street level.

Family and religious activities

In 1884, Ochs married Effie Wise, the daughter of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise of Cincinnati, who was the leading exponent of Reform Judaism in America and the founder of Hebrew Union College.

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