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Ex-NY Times publisher Sulzberger dies 86

NEW YORK--Former New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who led the newspaper to new levels of influence and profit while standing up for press freedom and editorial independence during some of the most significant moments in 20th-century journalism, died Saturday. He was 86.

Sulzberger, who went by the nickname “Punch” and served with the Marine Corps before joining the Times staff, first as a reporter, and then following his father and grandfather as publisher, died at his home in Southampton, New York, after a long illness, his family announced.

During his three-decade tenure, the newspaper won 31 Pulitzer prizes, published the Pentagon Papers on U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and won a libel case victory in New York Times vs. Sullivan that established important First Amendment protections for the press. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and other basic rights.

“Punch, the old Marine captain who never backed down from a fight, was an absolutely fierce defender of the freedom of the press,” his son, and current Times publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., said in a statement. He said his father's refusal to back down in the paper's free-speech battles “helped to expand access to critical information and to prevent government censorship and intimidation.”

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