The next generation takes over at The New York Times

NEW YORK - The publisher of The New York Times Co. (NYT) is stepping down after 25 years and will be succeeded by his 37-year-old son, the Times announced Thursday.

Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. will retire as of Dec. 31 but will remain as chairman of the board of directors, the Times said. His son and current deputy publisher, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, will take over as publisher.

"It is the greatest honor to serve The Times -- and the people who make it what it is -- as the next publisher," the younger Sulzberger, known as A.G., said in a staffwide email.

Sulzberger praised his father as "the only publisher of his generation who took the reins of a great news organization and left it even better than he found."

A.G. Sulzberger will be the fifth generation of the Ochs-Sulzberger family to serve as publisher since Adolph Ochs,his great great-grandfather, bought the Times in 1896.

The outgoing publisher, who is 66, took over from his own father, Arthur O. Sulzberger, in 1992 and went on to preside during an era of rapid change brought on by the rise of digital media.

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The Times published its first color photo in 1993 and its first web edition in 1996.

The newspaper's 2011 move to charge online readers through a pay wall was watched closely, with some doubting consumers would pay for content they were used to getting for free. The Times now has 3.5 million subscribers, 2.5 million of them paying for digital-only content.

"It has been an extraordinary honor to serve as publisher of The New York Times and I will step down at the end of the year prouder than I have ever been of the strength, independence and integrity of this institution," Sulzberger said in a statement.

The Times won 60 Pulitzer Prizes during Sulzberger's leadership but weathered controversies including a 2003 plagiarism scandal involving reporter Jayson Blair and the 2014 firing of Jill Abramson, the paper's first female executive editor.

The younger Sulzberger headed a team that produced a 2014 "innovation report" that outlined strategies for adapting to the digital era.

The Times has set a goal of bringing in at least $800 million in digital revenue by 2020, double what the company earned in 2014.

The younger Sulzberger joined the Times in 2009 after working as a reporter at the Providence Journal and the Oregonian. He worked as a New York metro reporter and later as the head of the Times' Kansas City bureau, where he wrote about his struggle to survive as a vegetarian in a "Mecca of meat."

After Kansas City, he became an assistant editor and was appointed deputy publisher last year.