What is the New York Times?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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The New York Times is a major American daily newspaper produced in New York, New York, and distributed internationally. It is owned by the New York Times Company, a media conglomerate which also controls a number of other newspapers including The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune, along with a single radio station. The Times, as it is often called, has long been renowned in the United States for the quality of its reporting, and its circulation is the third largest in the United States, behind the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

In addition to being a highly prestigious paper, the New York Times is also a very old paper, at least for the United States. It has been published since 8 September 1851, and it has carried the masthead slogan “all the news that's fit to print” since 1896, when the Ochs family gained control of the paper. The Times has traditionally had quite a rivalry with several local papers, and it has been recognized nationally for its often cutting edge reporting; the New York Times was the first paper, for example, to begin publishing the Pentagon Papers, and it often scoops other papers on major stories.


Some critics of the Times believe that it is too formal for a modern newspaper. The typesetting for the New York Times is very conservative, with the paper retaining a traditional eight column format, rather than the six column format which many other papers have adopted. In addition, the paper tends to refer to people in the news formally, with proper honorific titles, and its headlines tend to be distinctively verbose. The New York Times has also been slow to adopt trends in modern newspaper journalism; the first color photograph did not appear on the front page until 1997, for example. The paper is also known by the nickname “The Gray Lady,” in a reference to its conservative look.

However, the straight-laced appearance of the New York Times does not reflect the personal or political beliefs of members of the staff. The Times is quick to criticize in cutting opinion editorials, and it is not afraid to carry controversial advertisements or subject matter. The paper has been recognized for this with 95 Pulitzer Prizes as of 2007, far more than any other newspaper in the United States.

Several features of the New York Times are particularly famous, such as the notoriously challenging Sunday Crossword, which has been published since 1942. The paper has also expanded readily into Internet media, and was one of the first major papers to have a website. Users of the Times website can view current or recent news for free, as well as archives of the paper published prior to 1922, making the New York Times website a valuable source of research material.


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