The senior Mr. Sulzberger died at his home in Southampton, N.Y., the Times announced. The cause of death was not disclosed.
During his time as publisher, from 1963 to 1992, Mr. Sulzberger was credited with upholding what many journalists consider the highest standards of the profession and challenging powerful interests in all corners of society. The paper won 31 Pulitzer Prizes under his stewardship.
“He stood for everything that was important in journalism,” said Jack W. Fuller, the former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. “He was the solid center behind what was important and necessary at the newspaper.”
Mr. Sulzberger’s imprint was felt in many enduring ways. He oversaw the transformation of the enterprise to a publicly traded company and played an incalculable role in shaping the Times for generations of readers.
He made the paper available nationally via satellite printing plants and, in 1970, introduced the op-ed (opposite-editorial) page, which showcases Times columnists and other writers whose opinions sometimes differ from the paper’s institutional voice.
He broadened the paper’s appeal by increasing coverage of science, sports, religion, arts and lifestyle news. He made crucial appointments throughout the newsroom, elevating Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist A.M. Rosenthal to managing editor, and later to executive editor, and adding columnist William Safire.
Authors Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones, in their unofficial history of the newspaper, “The Trust,” called Mr. Sulzberger “arguably the greatest” Times publisher since his grandfather Adolph S. Ochs bought the Times in 1896 and instilled new principles of fairness and responsible journalism at what was then a failing newspaper
As a new publisher in 1963, Mr. Sulzberger rebuffed a request from President John F. Kennedy to recall the Times’s Vietnam correspondent, David Halberstam, who had annoyed the military and administration with reports that punctured official claims about the war’s progress — reports that brought Halberstam and the Times a share of the 1964 Pulitzer for international reporting.
Under Mr. Sulzberger’s guidance, the Times prevailed in a landmark libel case, Times v. Sullivan, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1964 that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements made without malice about the conduct of public officials.
In 1971, the New York Times was leaked a secret history, known as the Pentagon Papers, detailing 25 years of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Although Mr. Sulzberger knew that the Times might be sued and driven into financial ruin and that he could be sent to jail, he decided to publish a multipart series at the urging of Rosenthal, then the managing editor.