“How Punch Protected the Times.” By Joe Nocera. New York Times. October 1, 2012. In 1969, shares of The New York Times Company began to be listed on the American Stock Exchange. The driving force behind the listing was the company’s chairman and chief executive, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who was then 43 and had been at the helm for six years. Eager to expand the company, he needed a listed stock that the company could use to make deals. But a listed stock had to have voting rights. And that conflicted with another of Sulzberger’s goals: to ensure that his family, which had owned the paper since 1896, would remain in control of the company and its flagship newspaper. Since the 1950s, the company had given stock to favored employees and others, stock that could be bought and sold but had no voting rights. The solution was to give that stock — Class A shares, they were called — some voting rights, but not enough to threaten the family’s control. The Class B shares, held largely in a family trust, still gave the Sulzbergers the power to elect around 70 percent of the board. Sulzberger, who was known as Punch, died on Saturday. In the encomiums that followed, much was made of his fierce dedication to the First Amendment and his overseeing the remaking of The Times, especially the addition of feature sections that brought new advertising, and new life, to “The Gray Lady.” In recent years, that dedication has been sorely tested. As advertising gravitated away from the printed page and toward the Internet, Times Company stock has been hit hard. Profits have declined. In 2009, the company eliminated the dividend, which had been a source of cash for family members. At Dow Jones & Company, the ruling Bancroft family decided to sell to Rupert Murdoch and the News Corporation. By all appearances, the Sulzbergers never flinched. None of which would have mattered without the protection provided by the dual class of shares. Inevitably, as the newspaper business declined, financial engineers came knocking. I understand that the Sulzbergers have made their share of mistakes, such as the purchase of The Boston Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993. But there is something both straightforward and honest about their approach. If you buy New York Times stock, you are buying into the notion that you’ll let the family run the show, as it has done for more than a century. And the Sulzbergers will put The Times’s journalism ahead of all else, because that is what is in the family’s DNA. The bet Punch Sulzberger made his whole career is that people wanted — and would pay for — great journalism. Today, despite an uncertain future, his heirs are making the same bet. The protection afforded them by the dual-class structure has allowed the current chairman, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and the rest of the family to take the long view without worrying about corporate raiders or hedge fund managers.