Wall Street Journal

views updated May 21 2018


WALL STREET JOURNAL. Charles Dowand Edward Jones, owners of Dow, Jones and Company, began publishing the daily Wall Street Journal on 8 July 1889. Both Dow and Jones were New Englanders with mutual

roots in journalism in Providence, Rhode Island. Their company had been founded seven years earlier as a financial news agency serving the burgeoning New York City financial community. Following their initial success, the founders sold their company to their Boston correspondent Clarence Barron in 1902.

Newspapers in the United States have been primarily concerned with general news and the perspectives of their local communities. The Wall Street Journal was designed for the business community: "Its object is to give fully and fairly the daily news attending the fluctuation in prices of stocks, bonds and some classes of commodities" (Wendt, p. 28). The journal initiated several indexes of price movements of stocks, including the Dow Jones Indexes. The top left-hand column covered general market and financial movements. The second from left covered the details of the day's market movements. The rest of the four-page paper was thoroughly business oriented, reporting general news in the context of its effect on the markets. Daily circulation reached 7,000 copies by 1900, 18,750 copies in 1920, and 29,780 copies in 1939. By comparison, the daily circulation of the New York Times in 1939 was 482,000 copies.

Bernard Kilgore became managing editor of the journal in 1945, seventeen years after the death of Clarence Barron. Kilgore redesigned the paper, expanding its coverage to include all aspects of business, economics, and consumer affairs, including general news that had an impact on business. Other business news ventures of the parent Dow Jones Company included the Dow Jones News Service, Barron's, and the new international editions of the journal. Together they provided mutual support in reporting business and financial news. Starting in the late 1940s the journal published regional editions. The company purchased the Chicago Journal of Commerce in 1951 and effectively became a national newspaper.

With the growth of post–World War II prosperity and investments in the United States, the journal's circulation grewrapidly, reaching over a million copies in 1960 and almost 2 million by the 1990s. As the readership and breadth of coverage of the journal grew, so did the importance of the journal's editorial opinions. Avoidance of government policies seen as promoting price inflation or excessive levels of debt were the editorial preferences of the journal. Consistently sympathetic to conservative business principles, the journal emerged as the voice of political conservatism in American journalism. Such an editorial perspective, when combined with broad national distribution, provided strong circulation and advertising revenue growth, reaching $2.3 billion in the year 2000 and profits before special items of $294.6 million.

The breadth of the journal's circulation expanded further with the launch of the Asian Wall Street Journal in 1976 and the Wall Street Journal Europe in 1983. The special editions in thirty-eight local languages worldwide, the Wall Street Journal Sunday, and WallStreetJournal.com were added in the last decade of the twentieth century. Leading this growth, the flagship Wall Street Journal had become the largest circulation newspaper in the United States.


Dealy, Francis X., Jr. The Power and the Money: Inside the Wall Street Journal. Secaucus, N.Y.: Carol Publishing Group, 1993.

Rosenberg, Jerry M. Inside the Wall Street Journal: The History and the Power of Dow Jones and Company and America's Most Influential Newspaper. New York: Macmillan, 1982.

Wendt, Lloyd. The Wall Street Journal: The Story of Dow Jones and the Nation's Business Newspaper. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1982.


See alsoDow Jones ; Stock Market .

Wall Street Journal

views updated May 23 2018


The Wall Street Journal, published coast to coast, is the authoritative source for tracking business, financial, and economic news in the United States. With the largest daily circulation of any newspaper in the United States, the Journal is the nation's most influential newspaper. Dow Jones & Company owns and publishes the Journal.

The Journal, published daily on weekdays except holidays, is organized into three sections: Page One, Marketplace, and Money & Investing. On Friday a fourth section, Weekend Journal, is added. The Journal 's unique presentation is a six column style with no big headlines. Page One includes the legendary, "What's News," in columns two and three. Under the subheadings of "Business and Finance" and "World Wide" are brief summaries of major economic news items and summaries of national and worldwide events. More in-depth coverage is found inside the section. Page One presents all the news in a tight, quick-read format with the same types of information found consistently in the same places. Section two, Marketplace, focuses on the impact of business on readers' careers and families, and keeps readers abreast of new product development. Section three, Money & Investing, contains all the economic statistical data and also provides columns offering explanations, insight, and perspective on the markets. The Weekend Journal, introduced in 1998, is devoted to leisure, art, and entertainment.

In 1882 Charles Dow (18511902) and Edward Jones (18561920) founded Dow, Jones & Company on the premise that business news could be reported in a lively but level-headed, unslanted style. Dow, Jones operations depended entirely on reporters daily touring brokerage houses, banks, and offices, listening and taking notes. On July 8, 1889 the Wall Street Journal was born. As the U.S. economy grew, the Journal provided stable commentary reporting market developments, general financial movement, and business interests. Clarence W. Barron purchased Dow Jones in 1902 and for twenty-six years was its dynamic force. "Casey" Hogate, entrusted with its management in 1933, began "What's News." Refuting the idea the Journal must reach only a specific regional constituency, Hogate, perceiving all businessmen throughout the United States as a single community, provided a single reliable source of competent and comprehensive information to them. Barney Kilgore, president of Dow, Jones & Company beginning in 1945, creatively fashioned not only a thorough newspaper but added conciseness and even humor to business, Washington, and world wide news. By the 1970s the Journal was the United States' most trusted newspaper. In 1980 it overtook the New York Daily News to become number one in circulation.

See also: Charles Dow