As reported by The New York Times on Sunday, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University has created a writer-in-residence program named for Times former executive editor, A. M. Rosenthal.
The Rosenthal writer will earn $30,000, which carries with it the opportunity to bring in other nonfiction writers to conduct research and work on other projects, while exchanging ideas with students and faculty members.
The Harvard program, initiated by family and friends is a fitting tribute to one of the true newspaper titans of the 20th century. It was Rosenthal, after all, in a career that extended nearly 55 years at the Times, who guided the paper through some of its most aggressive reporting, including coverage of the Pentagon Papers, the Vietnam War, and Watergate, while enhancing the paper’s face by introducing the Friday Weekend, Arts & Entertainment and Living sections in 1976; a Home section in 1977, and Science Times in 1978.
Rosenthal, who died in 2006 at the age of 84, officially retired from the Times in 1999. His son, Andrew, continues to carry the Rosenthal torch as the Times editorial page director, a position he has held since January, 2007.
It only seems fitting, then, to look back at some noteworthy moments of Rosenthal’s rich and celebrated career at the Times.
December 7, 1943: Abraham Michael ("Abe") Rosenthal submits his first story for The Times ("Spirit of C.C.N.Y. A Sad, Sad Story") as a 12 dollar a week college stringer. He became a full-time employee in 1944, and on October 20, 1945, his official byline: A.M Rosenthal appears for the first time.
October 12, 1963: The obituary of playwright and poet, Jean Cocteau, represents the first obit that began The Times tradition of writing detailed biographical sketches of prominent figures at the urging of the metropolitan editor at the time, A.M. Rosenthal.
April 29, 1968: Assistant managing editor A.M Rosenthal attends the opening of the Broadway play "Hair." After the performance, he learns a group of Columbia University students staged a sit-in at the school and police were planning to make arrests later that evening. Rosenthal witnesses first hand the violence that unfolds when police storm the campus building. He becomes so enraged at the demonstrators, the hostility they incited, and the damage to the buildings, that he writes an impassioned account of the night's events, which appeared May 1, 1968, on page one.
NOTE: According to Harrison E. Salisbury, former editor at The Times and author of "Without Fear or Favor: An Uncompromising Look at The New York Times", Rosenthal paid a price for letting his emotions get the better of him. The Times top executives, for one, were upset with he pushed his story onto page one; the publisher of the paper, Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger had to contend with a mob of picketers in front of his Fifth Avenue apartment; and Rosenthal himself would be thought of as a "right-winger" -- a label, Salisbury maintains--particularly among the youth--that stayed with him throughout his career.
1972: The Times discontinue using the word ``Negro’’ when referring to African-Americans after managing editor A.M. Rosenthal disapproved of a copy editor for taking out a reporter’s use of`` black’’ and replacing it with ``Negro’’.
Rosenthal wrote: "The decision as to whether to use black or Negro should be made by the reporter writing the story. The reason is that there are many subtleties and the reporter is best qualified to decide which usage the proper one is given the context of the story and people about whom he was writing."
April 6, 1976: The Times announces the Sunday and news departments would be brought under the immediate control of A.M. Rosenthal, the managing editor
June 20, 1986: In an Editor's Note, The Times acknowledge the term "Ms" had become common usage and accordingly will be adopted as an honorific in news columns and when an identity of a woman is unknown. Executive editor A.M. Rosenthal ordered the change.
NOTE: Joseph C. Goulden, in his book "Fit To Print: A.M. Rosenthal And His Times" wrote that when Gloria Steinem was alerted to The Times policy change, she immediately sent Rosenthal flowers along with a thank-you note compliments of the Ms Magazine staff.
October 12, 1986: The Times report executive editor A.M. Rosenthal was stepping down from the post. Editorial page editor Max Frankel was named his successor.
NOTE: A.M. Rosenthal became a full-time Op-Ed columnist on January 6, 1987.
November 4, 1999: A.M. Rosenthal, Op-Ed columnist for The Times since 1987, retires--completing a 55-year career as reporter, foreign correspondent, metropolitan editor, assistant managing editor, associated managing editor, managing editor, executive editor, and finally columnist. His last column appears the following day along with a biographical sketch by Clyde Haberman.
May 10, 2006: Pulitzer Prize winning A.M Rosenthal, a former op-ed page columnist, and the pioneering executive editor of the New York Times from 1977 to 1986, who spoke with a sharp tongue, ruled with an iron fist, but was largely credited with giving the Times a much needed facelift during a crucial phase of its illustrious history, died in Manhattan, at age 84.