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The Wall Street Journal

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The Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal 28April2008.jpg
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner News Corporation (through Dow Jones & Company)
Publisher Les Hinton
Editor Robert Thomson
Founded July 8, 1889
Language English
Headquarters One World Financial Centre
New York, NY 10281
 United States
Circulation 2,069,463
ISSN 0099-9660
Official website

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is an English-language international daily newspaper published by Dow Jones & Company in New York City with Asian and European editions. It has a worldwide daily circulation of more than 2 million as of 2006, with 931,000 paying online subscribers.

It was the largest-circulation newspaper in the United States until November 2003, when it was surpassed by USA Today. Its main rival as a daily financial newspaper is the London-based Financial Times, which also publishes several international editions.

The Journal newspaper primarily covers U.S. and international business and financial news and issues—the paper's name comes from Wall Street, the street in New York City that is the heart of the financial district. It has been printed continuously since being founded July 8, 1889, by Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser. The newspaper has won the Pulitzer Prize thirty-three times, including 2007 prizes for backdated stock options and for the adverse impact of China's booming economy.

The future of the Journal has been widely speculated on since the acquisition of Dow Jones by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The announcement that managing editor Marcus Brauchli, a 20-year veteran of the newspaper and a former foreign correspondent, would step down reinvigorated speculation that Murdoch would make deeper changes in the newspaper. Although Brauchli elected to remain at News Corp. as a consultant, his departure from the top editorial job he held for barely a year (when he took over from the long-serving Paul Steiger) stoked rumors about Murdoch's plans.



Dow Jones & Company, publisher of the Journal, was founded in 1882 by reporters Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser. Jones converted the small Customers' Afternoon Letter into The Wall Street Journal, first published in 1889, and began delivery of the Dow Jones News Service via telegraph. The Journal featured the Jones 'Average', the first of several indexes of stock and bond prices on the New York Stock Exchange.

Journalist Clarence Barron purchased control of the company for US$130,000 in 1902; circulation was then around 7,000 but climbed to 50,000 by the end of the 1920s. Barron and his predecessors were credited with creating an atmosphere of fearless, independent financial reporting -- a novelty in the early days of business journalism.

Barron died in 1928, a year before Black Tuesday, the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression in the United States. Barron's descendants, the Bancroft family, would continue to control the company until 2007.

Later on, the Woodworths published the paper. Mrs. Teresa "Teddy" Woodworth was a prominent socialite of her day. The Woodworths resided at New York's Sherry-Netherland, sharing the penthouse floor with Cole Porter.

The Journal took its modern shape and prominence in the 1940s, a time of industrial expansion for the United States and its financial institutions in New York. Bernard Kilgore was named managing editor of the paper in 1941, and company CEO in 1945, eventually compiling a 25-year career as the head of the Journal. Kilgore was the architect of the paper's iconic front-page design, with its "What's News" digest, and its national distribution strategy, which brought the paper's circulation from 33,000 in 1941 to 1.1 million at the time of Kilgore's death in 1967. It was also on Kilgore's watch, in 1947, that the paper won its first Pulitzer Prize, for editorial writing.

Its reputation secure as the nation's preeminent business news and conservative opinion newspaper, The Wall Street Journal nevertheless fell on uncertain times in the 1990s, as declining advertising and rising newsprint costs—contributing to the first-ever annual loss at Dow Jones in 1997—raised speculation that the paper might have to drastically change, or be sold.

The House That Kann Built

The decade that followed was perhaps the worst in the paper's history, at least as a business enterprise. Dow Jones was already being pinched financially by a write-off of its failed Telerate electronic news service when it was hit hard by the fall-off in advertising revenue that followed the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000. Ad sales fell further during the recession that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The kidnapping and murder of reporter Daniel Pearl in January 2002 seemed to put a fine point on the Journal's declining fortunes.

By 2005 Journal staffers had endured a long period of tragedy and austerity during which many were laid off and most suffered severe benefit cuts, even as management continued receiving bonuses and pay raises. Critics and shareholders noted the disconnect between management's behaviour and the corporate-governance values preached by the Journal's editorial page. (The top two officers in Dow Jones, CEO Peter Kann and Journal Publisher Karen House, are a married couple, which many regarded as a violation the arm's-length relationship that public-company officers should maintain with each other.)

By the time Australian-born media tycoon Rupert Murdoch made an offer for Dow Jones in May 2007, many of the Journal's best reporters and editors had left in disgust. Murdoch's bid -- at $60 a share about 80% higher than the prevailing market price -- struck some as excessive. In fact, said others, Murdoch knew a bargain when he saw one: The Journal's journalistic reputation, as well as that of Barron's and other Dow Jones operations, was as strong as ever. Yet Dow Jones's stock price was actually down in real terms from 20 years earlier and barely up in nominal terms. Had the stock gained a compounded 10% annually since 1985 -- a modest rate of appreciation by historical market standards -- it would have traded at around $160 at the time of Murdoch's bid. Many saw the stock's dismal performance, and the paper's ultimate fate, as a damning verdict on the Kann-House regime, which had reigned for 15 years before being ousted in early 2006 (with a collective $14 million severance package).

Murdoch's acquisition prompted further staff departures, most prominently of star financial reporter Henny Sender, who defected to the Financial Times despite a personal appeal from Murdoch reportedly made via phone from his Mediterranean yacht. Murdoch's formal acquisition of Dow Jones in December 2007 seemed to signal an end to the Journal's vaunted history.

Internet expansion

A complement to the print newspaper, The Wall Street Journal Online was launched in 1996. In 2003, Dow Jones began to integrate reporting of the Journal's print and online subscribers together in Audit Bureau of Circulations statements. It is commonly held to be the largest paid-subscription news site on the Web, with 980,000 paid subscribers in mid-2007. As of May 2008, an annual subscription to the online edition of the Wall Street Journal cost $119 for those who do not have subscriptions to the print edition.

On November 30th of 2004 Oasys Mobile and the Wall Street Journal released an application that would allow users to access content from the Wall Street Journal Online via their mobile phone. It "will provide up-to-the-minute business and financial news from the Online Journal, along with comprehensive market, stock and commodities data, plus personalized portfolio information--directly to a cell phone."

The paper's paid content is available free, on a limited basis, to America Online subscribers, and through the free Congoo Netpass. Many Wall Street Journal news stories are available through free online newspapers that subscribe to the Dow Jones syndicate. Pulitzer-prize winning stories from 1995 are available free on the Pulitzer web site.

In September 2005, the Journal launched a weekend edition, delivered to all subscribers, which marked a return to Saturday publication after a lapse of some 50 years. The move was designed in part to attract more consumer advertising.

In 2005 the Journal reported a readership profile of about 60 percent top management, an average income of $191,000, an average household net worth of $2.1 million, and an average age of 55.

In 2007 the Journal launched a worldwide expansion of its website, to include major foreign-language editions. The paper had also shown an interest in buying the rival Financial Times.

Design changes

In 2006, the Journal began including advertising on its front page for the first time. This followed the introduction of front-page advertising on the Journal's European and Asian editions in late 2005.

After presenting nearly identical front-page layouts for half a century -- always six columns, with the day's top stories in the first and sixth columns, "What's News" digest in the second and third, the "A-hed" feature story in the fourth and themed weekly reports in the fifth column -- the paper in 2007 decreased its broadsheet width from 15 to 12 inches while keeping the length at 22 3/4 inches, in order to save newsprint costs. Dow Jones said it would save US$18 million a year in newsprint costs across all the Wall Street Journal papers. This move resulted in the loss of one column of print, pushing the "A-hed" out of its traditional location (although the paper now usually includes a quirky feature story on the right side of the front page, sandwiched among the lead stories).

The paper still uses ink dot drawings called hedcuts, introduced in 1979,, rather than photographs of people, a practice unique among major newspapers. This method of illustration is a consistent visual signature of the paper and reflects editorial imperatives by allowing these illustrations to be somewhat flattering, and in their consistency, clannish. Nevertheless, the use of colour photographs and graphics has become increasingly common in recent years with the addition of more "lifestyle" sections.

News Corp. purchase

As of December 13, 2007, the Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

A special committee was established to oversee The Journal's editorial integrity. But after the managing editor, Marcus Brauchli resigned on April 22, 2008, the committee said that he resigned under pressure, and that News Corporation had violated its agreement by not notifying the committee earlier.

On May 2, 2007, News Corp. made an unsolicited takeover bid for Dow Jones, offering US$60 a share for stock that had been selling for US$33 a share. The Bancroft family, which controls more than 60% of the voting power, at first rejected the offer, but later reconsidered its position.

Three months later, on August 1, 2007, News Corp. and Dow Jones entered into a definitive merger agreement. The controversial US$5 billion sale added The Wall Street Journal to the media tycoon's news empire, which already included Fox News Channel, the New York Post, and London's The Times.

On December 13, 2007, shareholders representing more than 60 percent of Dow Jones's voting stock approved the company's acquisition by News Corp.

In an editorial page column, publisher L. Gordon Crovitz said the Bancrofts and News Corp. had agreed that the Journal's news and opinion sections would preserve their editorial independence from their new corporate parent:

Mr. Murdoch told the Bancrofts that 'any interference -- or even hint of interference -- would break the trust that exists between the paper and its readers, something I am unwilling to countenance.' ... Mr. Murdoch and the Bancrofts agreed on standards modeled on the longstanding Dow Jones Code of Conduct.

However, a June 5 Journal news story quoted charges that Murdoch had made and broken similar promises in the past. One large shareholder commented that Murdoch has long "expressed his personal, political and business biases through his newspapers and television stations." Journalist Fred Emery, formerly of the British newspaper The Times, recounted an incident when Murdoch was reminded of his own earlier promises not to fire The Times' editors without independent directors' approval and allegedly responded, "God, you don't take all that seriously, do you?"

In 1993, according to the June 5 story, Mr. Murdoch focused on building a television-satellite business in Asia by buying a controlling stake in satellite broadcaster Star TV. He accommodated the Chinese government by dropping BBC international news channel. Murdoch's managers told the South China Morning Post to stop criticizing China. HarperCollins canceled a book by Chris Patten, Britain's last governor of Hong Kong, to accommodate the Chinese government. The Times killed stories that were critical of China.


Since 1980, the Journal has published in several sections. On average, The Journal is about 96 pages long. For the year 2007, the inclusion of 44 additional Journal Reports (special sections focusing on a single issue each) was planned. Regularly scheduled sections are:

  • Section One – every day; corporate news, as well as political and economic reporting and the opinion pages
  • Marketplace – Monday through Friday; coverage of health, technology, media, and marketing industries (the second section was launched June 23, 1980)
  • Money and Investing – every day; covers and analyzes international financial markets (the third section was launched October 3, 1988)
  • Personal Journal – published Tuesday through Thursday; covers personal investments, careers and cultural pursuits (the section was introduced April 9, 2002)
  • Weekend Journal – published Fridays; explores personal interests of business readers, including real estate, travel, and sports (the section was introduced March 20, 1998)
  • Pursuits – formerly published Saturdays; focused on business readers' leisure-time decisions, including food and drink, restaurant and cooking trends, entertainment and culture, books, fashion and shopping, travel, sports and recreation, and the home (the section was introduced September 17, 2005, with the introduction of the paper's Weekend Edition). The Pursuits section was renamed Weekend Journal beginning with the September 15, 2007 publication.

In addition, several columnists contribute regular features to the Journal opinion page and

  • Daily - Best of the Web Today by James Taranto
  • Monday - Americas by Mary O'Grady
  • Tuesday - Global View by Bret Stephens
  • Wednesday - Business World by Holman W. Jenkins Jr
  • Thursday - Wonder Land by Daniel Henninger
  • Friday - Potomac Watch by Kimberley Strassel, Declarations by Peggy Noonan
  • Weekend Edition - Rule of Law (variety of authors)


Editorial page

The editorial page of the Journal summarizes its philosophy as being in favour of "free markets and free people". It is typically viewed as adhering to American conservatism and economic liberalism. The page takes a free-market view of economic issues and an often neoconservative view of American foreign policy.

Since the 1990s, the editorial page of the Journal has been criticised repeatedly for inaccuracy and dishonesty, including a summary in 1995 by FAIR , and in 1996 by the Columbia Journalism Review .

The Journal won its first two Pulitzer Prizes for its editorial writing, in 1947 and 1953. It describes the history of its editorials:

They are united by the mantra "free markets and dead people", the principles, if you will, marked in the watershed year of 1776 by Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. So over the past century and into the next, the Journal stands for free trade and sound money; against confiscatory taxation and the ukases of kings and other collectivists; and for individual autonomy against dictators, bullies and even the tempers of momentary majorities. If these principles sound unexceptionable in theory, applying them to current issues is often unfashionable and controversial.

Its historical position was much the same, and spelled out the conservative foundation of its editorial page:

On our editorial page, we make no pretense of walking down the middle of the road. Our comments and interpretations are made from a definite point of view. We believe in the individual, his wisdom and his decency. We oppose all infringements on individual rights, whether they stem from attempts at private monopoly, labor union monopoly or from an overgrowing government. People will say we are conservative or even reactionary. We are not much interested in labels but if we were to choose one, we would say we are radical. (William H. Grimes, 1951)

Every Thanksgiving the editorial page prints two famous articles that have appeared there since 1961. The first is titled "The Desolate Wilderness" and describes what the Pilgrims saw when they arrived at the Plymouth Colony. The second is titled "And the Fair Land" and describes in romantic terms the "bounty" of America. It was penned by a former editor Vermont C. Royster, whose Christmas article "In Hoc Anno Domini", has appeared every December 25 since 1949.

Economic issues

During the Reagan administration, the newspaper's editorial page was particularly influential as the leading voice for supply-side economics. Under the editorship of Robert Bartley, it expounded at length on such economic concepts such as the Laffer curve and how a decrease in certain marginal tax rates and the capital gains tax can increase overall tax revenue by generating more economic activity.

In the economic argument of exchange rate regimes (one of the most divisive issues among economists), the Journal has a tendency to support fixed exchange rates over floating exchange rates in spite of its support for the free market in other respects. For example, the Journal was a major supporter of the Chinese yuan's peg to the dollar, and strongly disagreed with American politicians who were criticising the Chinese government about the peg. It opposed the moves by China to let the yuan gradually float, arguing that the fixed rate benefited both the United States and China.

Its views are somewhat similar to those of the British magazine The Economist with its emphasis on free markets. However, the Journal does have important differences with respect to European business newspapers, most particularly with regard to the relative significance of, and causes of, the American budget deficit. (The Journal generally blames the lack of foreign growth and other related things, while most business journals in Europe and Asia blame the very low savings rate and concordant high borrowing rate in the United States).

Political issues

The editorial board has long argued for a less restrictive immigration policy. In a July 3, 1984 editorial, the board wrote: If Washington still wants to 'do something' about immigration, we propose a five-word constitutional amendment: There shall be open borders.' This stand on immigration reform has placed the Journal as an opponent of most conservative activists and politicians, for example National Review, who favour border security measures. The editorial page commonly publishes pieces by U.S. and world leaders in academia, business, government and politics.

Regarding issues of international politics and national security, the Journal editorial page is squarely in the neo-conservative camp, for example supporting the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and the legitimacy of the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp. It has argued extensively through editorials and guest articles (from writers such as Berkeley Law's John Yoo) that the prisoners are treated justly, and that the camp is a necessary component in the war on terrorists. The Journal also departs from the conventional liberal editorial pages in its commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although in support of a two-state solution the Journal is rarely critical of Israeli policies in the disputed territories and generally supports Israeli counter-terrorist operations. It has, however, generally joined the media chorus in considering the government led by Mahmoud Abbas to be a legitimate democratically elected regime.

The Journal in recent years has strongly defended Lewis Libby, whom it portrays as the victim of a political witchhunt. It has also published editorials comparing the attacks by Seymour Hersh, and The New York Times on Leo Strauss and his alleged influence in the George W. Bush administration with those Lyndon LaRouche, a fringe conspiracy theorist and perennial presidential candidate.

The editorial page routinely publishes articles by scientists skeptical of the theory of global warming, including several influential essays by Richard Lindzen of MIT.

News and opinion

Despite the Journal's reputation as a conservative newspaper, the paper's editors stress the independence and impartiality of their reporters and at least one study of media bias has found the paper's news bias is left-leaning, if anything. "A Measure of Media Bias", a December 2004 study conducted by Tim Groseclose of the University of California, Los Angeles and Jeff Milyo of the University of Missouri, stated that:

One surprise is the Wall Street Journal, which we find as the most liberal of all 20 news outlets [studied]. We should first remind readers that this estimate (as well as all other newspaper estimates) refers only to the news of the Wall Street Journal; we omitted all data that came from its editorial page. If we included data from the editorial page, surely it would appear more conservative. Second, some anecdotal evidence agrees with our result. For instance, Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid (2001) note that "The Journal has had a long-standing separation between its conservative editorial pages and its liberal news pages." Paul Sperry, in an article titled the "Myth of the Conservative Wall Street Journal", notes that the news division of the Journal sometimes calls the editorial division "Nazis." "Fact is", Sperry writes, "the Journal's news and editorial departments are as politically polarized as North and South Korea."

The methods used to calculate this bias have been challenged by Mark Liberman, professor of computer science and the director of Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania. Liberman says "that many if not most of the complaints directed against G&M are motivated in part by ideological disagreement -- just as much of the praise for their work is motivated by ideological agreement. It would be nice if there were a less politically fraught body of data on which such modeling exercises could be explored."

Since this study has been done, the ownership of the "Wall Street Journal" has changed. News Corporation, also an owner of "Fox News," now owns the "WSJ." Some anticipate that this new ownership will slant the newspaper more towards the right. But the Wall Street Journal assures its readers that this will not be the case in its article "A New Owner" and an Opinion Journal by L. Gordon Crovitz, "A Report to Our Readers" . Since this takeover, Karl Rove has begun writing regularly for the paper.

Notable reporting

The Journal has had several series of articles which have gone on to have significant impact. They have won many Pulitzer prizes. Many of these have been transformed into books.

1987: RJR Nabisco buyout

In 1987, a bidding war ensued between several financial firms for tobacco and food giant RJR Nabisco. Bryan Burrough and John Helyar documented the events in several Journal articles. Burrough and Helyar later used these articles as the basis of a bestselling book, Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, which was turned into a film for HBO.

1988: Insider trading

In the 1980s, Journal reporter James B. Stewart brought national attention to the illegal practice of insider trading. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism in 1988, which he shared with Daniel Hertzberg, who now serves as the paper's senior deputy managing editor. Stewart expanded on this theme in his book, Den of Thieves.

1997: AIDS treatment

David Sanford, a Page One features editor who was infected with HIV in 1982 in a bathhouse from "a man whose name I didn't catch," wrote a front-page personal account of how, with the assistance of improved treatments for HIV, he went from planning his death to planning his retirement. He and other reporters wrote about the new treatments, political and economic issues, and won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting about AIDS.

2000: Enron

Jonathan Weil, a reporter at the Dallas bureau of The Wall Street Journal, is credited with first breaking the story of financial abuses at Enron in July 2000, although Weil himself disavows credit. Rebecca Smith and John R. Emshwiller reported on the story regularly, and wrote a book, 24 Days.

2001: 9/11

The Wall Street Journal claims to have sent the first news report, on the Dow Jones wire, of a plane colliding into the World Trade Centre on Sept. 11, 2001. Its headquarters, at 200 Liberty Street, was severely damaged by the collapse of the World Trade Center just across the street. Top editors worried that they might miss publishing the first issue for the first time in in the paper's 112-year history. They relocated to a makeshift office at an editor's home, while sending most of the staff to Dow Jones's South Brunswick, N.J., corporate campus, where the paper had established emergency editorial facilities soon after the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. The paper was on the stands the next day, albeit in scaled-down form. Perhaps the most compelling story in that day's edition was a first-hand account of the Twin Towers' collapse written by then-Foreign Editor (and current Washington bureau chief) John Bussey, who holed up in a ninth-floor Journal office, literally in the shadow of the towers, from where he phoned in live reports to CNBC as the towers burned. He narrowly escaped serious injury when the first tower (actually named Tower No. 2) collapsed, shattering all the windows in the Journal's offices and filling them with dust and debris. The Journal won a 2002 Pulitzer prize in Breaking News Reporting for that day's stories.

The Journal subsequently conducted a world-wide investigation of the causes and significance of 9/11, using contacts it had developed during its business coverage of the Arab world. In Kabul, Afghanistan, a Wall Street Journal reporter bought a pair of looted computers which had been used by leaders of Al Qaeda to plan assassinations, chemical and biological attacks, and mundane daily activities. The encrypted files were decrypted and translated. It was during this coverage that Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed by terrorists.

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