The New York Times' Legacy: Pentagon Papers to Snow Fall

The New York Times' Legacy: Pentagon Papers to Snow Fall
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The New York Times (NYT) is a daily newspaper in New York City read by people all over the world. In 2022, it had 740,000 print subscribers and 8.6 million digital subscribers. It was founded in 1851 and is published by The New York Times Company. The Times has won 132 Pulitzer Prizes, making it the most awarded newspaper. It's known as a top national newspaper.

The newspaper's headquarters is in The New York Times Building near Times Square in Manhattan. The company has been run by the Sulzberger family since 1896. A. G. Sulzberger, the current publisher and chairman, is part of the fifth generation leading the paper.

Since the 1970s, The New York Times has grown, adding special sections on various topics alongside regular news. It covers global and U.S. news, and its sections include News, Editorials, Business, Arts, Science, and more. On Sundays, it comes with extra features like the Sunday Review, Book Review, Magazine, and Style Magazine.

Historical Background:

The New York Times, founded on September 18, 1851, was originally called the New-York Daily Times. It was started by Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones. They aimed to be a balanced newspaper, sometimes conservative and sometimes radical, focusing on what's good for society.

The New York Times' Legacy: Pentagon Papers to Snow Fall
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In 1852, they tried a version in California but it didn't work out. In 1857, they shortened their name to The New-York Times. During the Civil War in 1861, they began a Sunday edition. The hyphen was removed from the Paper’s name on December 1, 1896.

In 1863, their office was attacked during the New York City draft riots, but they defended it. In 1869, George Jones took over as the publisher after Henry Raymond passed away.

In 1870 and 1871, it exposed William Tweed, a powerful political figure, which led to the end of his control over the city. In the 1880s, the newspaper shifted from supporting one political party to being more independent and analytical, even supporting a Democrat for president in 1884. This change initially cost them readers but they recovered within a few years.

Pentagon Papers:

In 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara asked for a secret study about the Vietnam War. It became a massive report with 47 books and over 7,000 pages. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, who worked on the report, secretly copied it and gave it to the New York Times. They started publishing it, calling it the "Pentagon Papers."

The Nixon government got a court order to stop more publication, saying it was a national security issue. The Times asked the Supreme Court to decide, and they agreed to hear it very quickly. On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court said the government couldn't stop the Times from publishing. They said it's hard to justify stopping free speech before it happens. So, the Pentagon Papers continued to be published.

The New York Times' Legacy: Pentagon Papers to Snow Fall
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Transition to the Digital Era:

As technology advanced, The New York Times embraced the digital revolution and adapted to the changing media landscape. In 1996, the newspaper launched its website, providing readers with access to news articles online. This move marked a significant shift in the way news was consumed, and The New York Times was at the forefront of this digital transformation.

The "Snow Fall" article:

The "Snow Fall" article, published by The New York Times in 2012, was a groundbreaking multimedia feature that revolutionized digital storytelling. It chronicled the harrowing tale of a deadly avalanche in Washington State's Cascade Mountains. What set "Snow Fall" apart was its immersive design, blending text, photos, videos, and interactive graphics seamlessly.

The article combined traditional journalism with multimedia elements to provide readers with a truly immersive experience. It featured stunning visuals, personal narratives, and in-depth reporting, making it an example of "narrative journalism" at its finest.

"Snow Fall" received widespread acclaim and earned a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. It demonstrated the potential of digital platforms to enhance storytelling and inspired a new era of multimedia journalism.

This article's success marked a turning point in how news organizations approached online storytelling, influencing the industry to adopt more interactive and visually engaging formats for news reporting.


Holodomor (Death by hunger, in Ukrainian):

Walter Duranty, bureau chief for The New York Times of Moscow won a Pulitzer Prize in 1931 for his reporting on the Soviet Union. However, he has faced criticism for his denial of a severe famine called the Holodomor in Ukraine during the early 1930s.

Duranty's reports were seen as unbalanced and too sympathetic to Soviet propaganda. He often downplayed the suffering in his stories. In 2003, the Pulitzer Board looked into his work, and an expert from Columbia University found it lacking credibility. He suggested that Duranty's prize should be taken away.

The New York Times' Legacy: Pentagon Papers to Snow Fall
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Despite these concerns, The New York Times and the Pulitzer committee decided not to revoke Duranty's award, saying his reporting didn't meet today's standards for foreign reporting. This decision has been met with criticism by some who believe the prize should be rescinded.

Like any prominent news organization, The New York Times has faced its share of controversies over the years. From accusations of biased reporting to disputes over the publication of classified information, the newspaper has found itself at the center of heated debates.

Iraq War Reporting (2003-2006):

The New York Times supported the Iraq War in 2003. They later admitted that some of their articles weren't as careful as they should have been and relied too much on information from Iraqi exiles who wanted to change the regime. The newspaper said they were influenced by U.S. officials who believed in intervening in Iraq. A reporter named Judith Miller was involved, and her stories were used by top U.S. officials to make a case for the war. Miller's sources were criticized, and she eventually retired after her reporting was found to be inaccurate and overly supportive of the Bush administration's position.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:

The New York Times has been accused of showing bias in its reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some say it's pro-Israel, while others say it's pro-Palestinian. A study found that the Times had a pro-Israel bias in its coverage. The newspaper's stance on this issue has been a topic of debate, with critics from both sides voicing their opinions. In one instance, a comment about the Israel lobby led to an apology from the author, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to write for the paper, citing concerns about objectivity.

The New York Times' Legacy: Pentagon Papers to Snow Fall
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Despite the controversies, The New York Times has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and accountability. It has implemented rigorous fact-checking processes and established internal guidelines to ensure the accuracy and fairness of its reporting. The newspaper's willingness to acknowledge and learn from its mistakes has allowed it to maintain its credibility and trustworthiness.

Reputation and Contribution:

The New York Times has rightfully earned a stellar reputation as a leading news organization. Its dedication to investigative reporting, in-depth analysis, and high journalistic standards have garnered numerous accolades over the years. The newspaper has been recognized with multiple Pulitzer Prizes, a testament to the excellence and rigor of its journalism.

In addition to its outstanding reporting, The New York Times has made significant contributions to the field of journalism as a whole. It has pioneered new storytelling techniques, embraced multimedia formats, and experimented with innovative approaches to engage and inform its readers. The newspaper's commitment to innovation has set the standard for modern journalism and inspired countless other media organizations to follow suit.


The history of The New York Times is connected with the growth and development of the United States itself. Over the years, The New York Times has covered some of the most significant events in American history. From the Civil War to the Great Depression, the newspaper has been a trusted source of information for generations of readers. Its journalists have been at the forefront of breaking news stories, ensuring that the public stays informed about the world around them.

The New York Times stands as a beacon of excellence and innovation in the field of journalism. As we reflect on its legacy, it becomes evident that The New York Times has left an indelible mark on the world of news and will continue to do so for years to come.