Battle of the Newspaper Families

The New York Times Co. and The Washington Post Co. have stock structures similar to Dow Jones', which allows the Sulzberger and Graham families almost complete control over their respective media conglomerates.

The Bancrofts, however, are nowhere near as involved in the operations of Dow Jones as the Sulzberger and Graham families are in those of the Times and the Post.

For the past two years, shareholders of The New York Times Co. have tried unsuccessfully to strip down some of the Sulzberger and Ochs family power.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the company's chairman and publisher of its namesake newspaper, has long held that the company would not change its dual ownership structure. Sulzberger said that such a setup allows the company to maintain its journalistic independence and weather economic downturns.

Family-owned newspapers face increased pressure to sell, and their ownership gets diluted among more family members in subsequent generations. As those generations take on other jobs, family ownership dissipates further.

For instance, the family of former Vice President Dan Quayle last month sold its newspaper after more than 70 years of family ownership. The vice president's brother was president of the company until the sale, which the family attributed to the "challenging days for this business."

The Bancroft family includes investment bankers, writers, equestrians and philanthropists, according to a 2003 article in The New Yorker.

Leslie Hill, an American Airlines pilot and member of the family, spoke to the magazine about a possible sale, saying at the time, "anything is possible -- you never say never."

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