"We must be about news. Serious journalists must seek to educate, inform and illuminate and our existence depends on us providing trustworthy and reliable information."
During times of crisis, such as Hurricane Katrina, the public places a higher value on authority and community and demands reliable, trustworthy information.
"We need to balance new technologies with traditional journalistic principles," said Mr Sulzberger.
"When newspapers, TV, radio and websites can aggressively and dispassionately disseminate the news, then we will help to rebuild respect in news media and contribute to the social cohesion of our society."
News sites must do a better job of embracing online communities, particularly to engage younger readers.
"If we want young people to read the news, we have to develop ways to encourage readers to think about larger issues and be more civic minded."
The Google threat
When asked about the threat from Google's move into classified advertising, Mr Sulzberger said he did not blame them for going after classifieds.
"But if you believe that brands matter, and you believe that our core news and information is valuable then we will not only survive but thrive," he said.
"We just have to get there before others do."
• The New York Times Company network is now the 12th largest presence on the internet, claimed Mr Sulzberger, with 350 million users across its websites.
Free daily newsletter
- Don’t just shut the door: What publishers can do to combat ad-blocking
- Beyond the comment box: Making the most of online communities
- 'Your competitors are not who you think they are' – Q&A with NYT's Andrew Phelps
- Google awards funding to 128 European projects as part of its Digital News Initiative
- How to reap the benefits of online communities for journalists