April 17, 2021

John D. Pomfret, Key Figure in Revamping The Times, Dies at 93

John D. Pomfret, who as a New York Times executive was instrumental in a watershed effort in the mid-1970s to modernize the newspaper’s format, boost its advertising revenue and improve its productivity with the introduction of computer technology, died on Feb. 24 at his home in Seattle. He was 93.

The cause was pneumonia, his son, John E. Pomfret II, said.

Mr. Pomfret was among the half-dozen editors and business executives who, under Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the publisher at the time, revived the company at a financially precarious time by creating a raft of stand-alone weekly sections — on food, home design, science and weekend entertainment — that proved popular with readers and advertisers alike. The Times also introduced Sunday regional sections that expanded the paper’s appeal to suburbanites in the New York metropolitan area.

Until then the paper had consisted of just two sections, of many pages each.

Mr. Pomfret was the last surviving member of the management team that spearheaded the transformation, beginning with Weekend on Fridays, which made its debut in April 1976. The others included Walter E. Mattson, the general manager; Louis Silverstein, the corporate art director; and the editors A.M. Rosenthal, Arthur Gelb and Seymour Topping.

“Our penetration of the segment of the market we consider our target audience is thin in the city and worse in the suburbs,” Mr. Pomfret had advised Mr. Sulzberger, according to “The Paper’s Papers,” Richard F. Shepard’s 1996 book about The Times. He first suggested creating the Weekend section and made tentative suggestions for the themes of four other weekday sections, each to appear weekly.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/business/media/john-pomfret-dead.html

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