Birth of Adolph Ochs 

Birth of Adolph Ochs 

U.S. #1700 was based on a photograph by S.J. Woolf.

Newspaper publisher Adolph Simon Ochs was born on March 12, 1858, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ochs was born into a Jewish family that had immigrated to America from Germany in 1846. His father taught in schools in the South during the Civil War, though he supported the Union.

After the Civil War, Ochs’ family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he attended school and delivered newspapers. He began working at the Knoxville Chronicle as an office boy when he was 11. His boss there, William Rule, would become a significant influence and mentor.

In the coming years Ochs attended night school, worked as a grocery clerk and druggist’s apprentice. He then returned to the newspaper to work as a “printer’s devil,” performing various duties. When he was 19, Ochs borrowed $250 from his family to buy the failing Chattanooga Times. He made a profit in his first year as a publisher.

U.S. #1015 was issued to honor America’s newspaper boys.

The following year Ochs created The Tradesman commercial newspaper and later helped found the Southern Associated press. Then in 1896, Ochs learned that The New York Times was suffering and could be bought for a very low price. So he borrowed money to purchase it, established the New York Times Company and became the paper’s majority stockholder.

U.S. #1700 – Ochs Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

With the Times, Ochs set out to “conduct a high standard newspaper, clean, dignified and trustworthy.” Subscribers appreciated knowing the latest news without the sensationalism of other papers.  Ochs also lowered the price from 3¢ an issue to 1¢. These efforts helped to save the paper that was nearly shut down. Readership increased tremendously from 9,000 when he bought it to 780,000 in the 1920s. Ochs also coined the motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” which remains on the paper today.

U.S. #PR114 – Newspaper & Periodical stamp from 1896.

Ochs eventually moved the paper to the Times Square and was noted for his frequent opposition to William Jennings Bryan’s presidential campaign. Under Ochs’ leadership the New York Times became one of the most respected and influential papers in the United States. Ochs also introduced different weekly and monthly supplements including The New York Times Book Review and Magazine, The Annalist (financial review), The Times Mid-Week Pictorial, Current History Magazine, and The New York Times Index.

Ochs died while visiting Chattanooga on April 8, 1935.

Click here to read Ochs’ New York Times obituary.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
[Total: 44 Average: 4.9]

Share this article

11 responses to "Birth of Adolph Ochs "

11 thoughts on “Birth of Adolph Ochs ”

  1. Thanks again Mystic. Another citizen that I had no previous knowledge of. A common thread of many is responsibility at a young age. According to your article Adolph Ochs delivered newspapers and then at 11 started working as an office boy .

  2. How interesting. Thank you for this bit of history on the Times and the man who made it great. The Times is, truly, a major, outlet for the dissemination of news in America. Ochs did a great job and set a wonderful vision for “All the news that is fit to print” in contrast to the sensationalist rags that it overtook as it built a fine reputation. But today’s Times has become, maybe not a sensationalist rag but a partisan one. Opinion is to be expected on a paper’s editorial pages, but the Times turns news throughout the paper into a series of progressive spins on news or views as they see fit. As a result, this once great paper is failing. Lots of other print journalism is, too. Our era is not favorable to serious news, especially the reading of it. But there’s a special sadness in the Times’ decline.

    • Unfortunately, most papers follow a view outside the opinion page. The New York Daily News was fairly center 10 years ago. Now the whole paper leans way to the left. And the New York Post leans way to the right. As you said, opinions should be opined in the opinion page, not throughout the entire paper.

  3. Today, the National Enquirer has more news that is “fit to print” than the New York Times. It is now an opinion rag and the only section that has any facts is the sports

  4. Nice history, especially with regards to the New York Times. Important background as to the rise of the media in our country and it’s role as the “Fourth Branch of Government”. I wonder how Mr Ochs would respond to the current conflict between the Media and the White House Presidency?

  5. I think Mr. Ochs would be terribly disappointed in the editorial appearing the New York Times today and most newsppers. There are more and greater views of America than is published in the Times today and most of America’s newspapers. When I was growing up in South Carolina, my father subscribed to the morning and evening news papers. I remember the Saturday green “funny papers” and the color ones on Sunday. What a shame. You can understand my views as I was born in 1938. God Bless America!

  6. With the Times, Ochs set out to “conduct a high standard newspaper, clean, dignified and trustworthy.” My how times have changed.


Leave a Comment

Love history?

Discover events in American history – plus the stamps that make them come alive.

Subscribe to get This Day in History stories straight to your inbox every day!