S.I. Newhouse Jr. dies; ran media empire, helped build Syracuse journalism program

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — S.I. Newhouse Jr., the son of the namesake of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School and prolific magazine publisher, died Sunday in New York. He was 89.

Newhouse’s company, Advanced Publications, operates numerous regional newspapers around the country, including Syracuse.com | The Post-Standard. It also owns Conde Nast, which publishes national magazines like The New Yorker, GQ and Vanity Fair.

The family paid tribute to Newhouse on Sunday, describing him as “the first person to come to the office, arriving well before dawn” and a person who brought “visionary creative spirit coupled with no-nonsense business.”

Bob Sauerberg, President and CEO of Conde Nast says that “today, we lost a giant.”

In addition to his success in publishing, Newhouse helped develop Syracuse University’s top journalism school.

In 2003, he and his family donated $15 million to the school, allowing it to build “Newhouse III” — an iconic campus building with the text of the First Amendment wrapped around it that connected the school. 

Obituaries published Sunday describe him as a socially awkward introvert who rarely grants interviews. But he’s being lauded as a tastemaker in journalism and publishing. 

“He loves magazines, meaning the whole and all of it, the variety of things published, the business details, the visions and actions and personalities of his editors, the problems, the problem-solving, the ink and paper … the all of it,” New Yorker editor David Remnick told New York magazine in 2009.

Newhouse lived with his second wife, Victoria, an architectural historian, in a Manhattan apartment near the United Nations and in a house in Bellport, Long Island. Newhouse had two sons and a daughter by his first wife, Jane Franke. 

A former member of the board of the Museum of Modern Art, Newhouse had a major collection of modern art including works by Picasso, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. He was also a major movie buff and enjoyed theater and the opera.

Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. was born Nov. 8, 1927, in Staten Island, the grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father, Sam Newhouse, bought the Staten Island Advance in 1922 and used its profits to purchase more papers. The Newhouses became one of the world’s richest families.

Despite the Newhouse family’s gifts to Syracuse University, Newhouse had a tough time at the school. He dropped out his junior year and began working at his father’s newspapers and eventually rose to become an industry leader. 

The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications took to Twitter, calling Newhouse “our friend” and sharing an extensive obituary in The New York Times.

Lorraine Branham, the school’s dean, said the junior Newhouse and his brother, Donald, were “unflagging” supporters of the school whose generosity has helped generations of students. 

“Their backing made so many things possible–including the school’s remarkable facilities–and their influence positively impacted generations of students and alumni who, in turn, made their own mark on the communications industry,” she said in a statement on the school’s website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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