The term 'Wall Street Journal' is included in the Corporate Finance edition of the Financial Dictionary. Get your copy on Amazon in Kindle, Paperback or Audio edition. Choose your edition here...
The Wall Street Journal refers to the United States-based and -focused business publication in English. This daily newspaper with an impressive history stretching back well over a century has been based in New York City, the American publishing hub. Fully six days each week, the Journal is published alongside its European and Asian editions. Dow Jones & Company the division of News Corp, publishes the newspaper according to a broadsheet format and also online.
According to circulation the Wall Street Journal represents the closest thing to a national newspaper, boasting the biggest circulation in the United States. The Alliance for Audited Media claims that while USA Today enjoys 1.7 million daily subscribers, the Journal counts approximately 2.4 million daily customers, when its 900,000 online subscriptions are counted (as of March 2013).
The newspaper is also among the most award-winning daily publications in the United States. To date in 2017, they have garnered an impressive 40 Pulitzer Prizes. The daily gets its name from its base of operations in the heart of Lower Manhattan’s national Financial District. The Journal can claim to have been published without interruption every day since it began appearing on July 8th of 1889 when Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser began publishing the venerable newspaper. Nowadays, the publication has also expanded into a lifestyle and luxury news format under the name of WSJ.
Interestingly enough, the Wall Street Journal did not represent the very first products which Dow Jones & Company published. Originally they started with brief news bulletins. They called these flimsies. Their personnel delivered them all through the trading day to stock exchange participants back in the early years of the 1880s. Next, they began compiling these together in a daily printed summary they called the Customers’ Afternoon Letter. They finally converted this to the Wall Street Journal full scale edition when Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser changed the format on the 8th of July in 1889. At this time they also started their celebrated Dow Jones News Service over the telegraph, hence the name Dow Jones Newswire.
They next utilized the base of the nationally known newspaper to launch the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicator in 1896. This represented the original of a number of different stock- and bond-based compilations on the New York Stock Exchange. The publication’s original column was the “Review & Outlook” column. More than a hundred and twenty years later, it is still a regular feature of the daily newspaper. Legendary reporter Charles Dow originally penned it for the publication.
By 1902, the journalist Clarence Barron bought controlling interest in the firm for a then hefty sum of $130,000. At the time, the newspaper’s considerable circulation tallied to 7,000 per day. Yet by the end of the roaring 1920s, it had exponentially grown to 50,000. Barron and his associates created an environment for independent and fearless financial reporting. This was a truly novel approach in the first days of financial journalism. Barron’s went on to found his premier financial weekly with the same name in 1921. Barron himself passed away in 1928 and did not live to see the terrifying events of Black Tuesday and the ensuing Great Depression. The Bancroft Family was the descendants of Barron. They maintained the company as a successful family enterprise for nearly a century until 2007.
It was in the 1940s that the Wall Street Journal attained its current national prominence and layout during this era of booming industrial expansion within the U.S. The managing editor of the financial publication became Bernard Kilgore in 1941. He attained the role of CEO for the firm in 1945. By the end of his legendary leadership career, he had capped an inspiring twenty-five year tenure as leader of the Journal.
In this time, he became the chief architect of the iconic design for the front page, the “What’s News” digest, and the publication’s well-known national distribution policy that exponentially boosted the circulation of the newspaper from a more humble 33,000 in 1941 to an incredible 1.1 million by the time he died in 1967. The paper also claimed its very first Pulitzer Prize under his leadership in 1947 for the editorials that William Henry Grimes wrote.