April 28, 2008 front page
|Owner(s)||News Corp (via Dow Jones & Company)|
|Editor-in-chief||Gerard Baker (editor)|
|Opinion editor||Paul A. Gigot|
|Founded||July 8, 1889|
|Headquarters||1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
(incl. 900,000 digital)
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper with a special emphasis on business and economic news. It is published six days a week in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal.
The Journal is the largest newspaper in the United States, by circulation. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, it has a circulation of about 2.4 million copies (including nearly 900,000 digital subscriptions), as of March 2013, compared with USA Today's 1.7 million. Its main rival in the business newspaper sector is the London-based Financial Times, which also publishes several international editions.
The Journal primarily covers American economic and international business topics, and financial news and issues. Its name derives from Wall Street, located in New York City, which is the heart of the financial district; it has been printed continuously since its inception on July 8, 1889, by Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser. The newspaper version has won the Pulitzer Prize thirty-four times, including 2007 prizes for its reporting on backdated stock options and the adverse effects of China's booming economy.
In 2011, The Wall Street Journal was ranked No. 1 in BtoB's Media Power 50 for the 12th consecutive year.
Dow Jones & Company's, publisher of the Journal, first product was brief news bulletins hand-delivered throughout the day to traders at the stock exchange. They were later aggregated in a printed daily summary called the Customers' Afternoon Letter. The reporters Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser converted this into The Wall Street Journal, which was published for the first time on July 8, 1889. and began delivery of the Dow Jones News Service via telegraph. In 1896, The "Dow Jones Industrial Average" was officially launched. It was the first of several indices of stock and bond prices on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1899 "The Journal's" 'Review & Outlook column, which still runs today, appears for the first time. It initially was written by Charles Dow.
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. In 1921, Barron's, America's premier financial weekly, was founded.
Barron died in 1928, a year before Black Tuesday, the stock market crash that greatly affected the Great Depression in the United States. Barron's descendants, the Bancroft family, would continue to control the company until 2007.
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 editorials by William Henry Grimes.
In 1967 Dow Jones Newswires began a major expansion outside of the U.S. that ultimately put journalists in every major financial center in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia, and Africa.
In 1970 Dow Jones bought the Ottaway newspaper chain, which at the time comprised nine dailies and three Sunday newspapers. Later, the name was changed to "Dow Jones Local Media Group."
1971 to 1997 brought about a series of launches, acquisitions, and joint ventures, including, "Factiva," "The Asian Wall Street Journal," "The Wall Street Journal Europe," "WSJ.com," "Dow Jones Indexes," "MarketWatch," and "WSJ Weekend Edition."
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. In 2007, it was commonly believed to be the largest paid-subscription news site on the Web, with 980,000 paid subscribers. Since then, online subscribership has fallen, due in part to rising subscription costs, and was reported at 400,000 in March 2010. In 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. By June 2013, the monthly cost for a subscription to the online edition was $22.99, or $275.88 annually, excluding introductory offers.
On November 30, 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 of The 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.
The nameplate is unique in having a period at the end.
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 223⁄4 inches, to save newsprint costs. News design consultant Mario Garcia collaborated on the changes. Dow Jones said it would save US$18 million a year in newsprint costs across all The Wall Street Journal papers. This move eliminated one column of print, pushing the "A-hed" out of its traditional location (though 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 and originally created by Kevin Sprouls, in addition to photographs, a method of illustration considered a consistent visual signature of the paper. The Journal still heavily employs the use of caricatures, notably those of Ken Fallin, such as when Peggy Noonan memorialized recently deceased newsman Tim Russert. The use of color photographs and graphics has become increasingly common in recent years with the addition of more "lifestyle" sections.
On May 2, 2007, News Corporation 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 controlled more than 60% of the voting stock, at first rejected the offer, but later reconsidered its position.
Three months later, on August 1, 2007, News Corporation and Dow Jones entered into a definitive merger agreement. The US$5 billion sale added The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch's news empire, which already included Fox News Channel, financial network unit and London's The Times, and locally within New York, the New York Post, along with Fox flagship station WNYW (Channel 5) and MyNetworkTV flagship WWOR (Channel 9).
On December 13, 2007, shareholders representing more than 60 percent of Dow Jones's voting stock approved the company's acquisition by News Corporation.
In an editorial page column, publisher L. Gordon Crovitz said the Bancrofts and News Corporation had agreed that the Journal's news and opinion sections would preserve their editorial independence from their new corporate parent:
A special committee was established to oversee the Journal's editorial integrity. When the managing editor Marcus Brauchli resigned on April 22, 2008, the committee said that News Corporation had violated its agreement by not notifying the committee earlier. However, Brauchli said he believed that new owners should appoint their own editor.
A 2007 Journal article 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." Former Times assistant editor Fred Emery remembers an incident when "Mr. Murdoch called him into his office in March 1982 and said he was considering firing Times editor Harold Evans. Mr. Emery says he reminded Mr. Murdoch of his promise that editors couldn't be fired without the independent directors' approval. 'God, you don't take all that seriously, do you?' Mr. Murdoch answered, according to Mr. Emery." Murdoch eventually forced out Evans.
In 2011, The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had artificially inflated its European sales numbers, by paying Executive Learning Partnership for purchasing 16% of European sales. These inflated sales numbers then enabled the Journal to charge similarly inflated advertising rates, as the advertisers would think that they reached more readers than they actually did. In addition, the Journal agreed to run "articles" featuring Executive Learning Partnership, presented as news, but effectively advertising. The case came to light after a Belgian Wall Street Journal employee, Gert Van Mol, informed Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton, about the questionable practice. As a result the then European Wall Street Journal CEO and Publisher Andrew Langhoff was fired after it was found out he personally pressured journalists into covering one of the newspaper’s business partners involved in the issue. Since September 2011 all the online articles that resulted from the ethical wrongdoing carry a Wall Street Journal disclaimer informing the readers about the circumstances in which they were created.
Since 1980, the Journal has been published in multiple sections. At one time, The Journal's page count averaged as much as 96 pages an issue, but with the industry-wide decline in advertising, the Journal in 2009–10 more typically published about 50 to 60 pages per issue. Regularly scheduled sections are:
In addition, several columnists contribute regular features to the Journal opinion page and OpinionJournal.com:
WSJ Live became available on mobile units, including iPad, in September 2011.
WSJ Weekend, the weekend newspaper, expanded September 2010, with two new sections: “Off Duty” and “Review.”
Greater New York, a stand-alone, full color section dedicated to the New York metro area, launched April 2010.
The Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco Bay Area Edition, which focuses on local news and events, launched on November 2009, appearing locally each Thursday in the print Journal and every day on online at WSJ.com/SF.
WSJ Weekend, formerly called Saturday’s Weekend Edition: September 2005.
Launch of Today's Journal, which included both the addition of Personal Journal and color capacity to the Journal: April 2002.
Friday Journal, formerly called First Weekend Journal: March 20, 1998.
WSJ.com launched in April 1996.
First three-section Journal: October 1988.
First two-section Journal: June 1980.
The Journal won its first two Pulitzer Prizes for editorial writing in 1947 and 1953. Subsequent Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded for editorial writing to Robert L. Bartley in 1980 and Joseph Rago in 2011; for criticism to Manuela Hoelterhoff in 1983 and Joe Morgenstern in 2005; and for commentary to Vermont Royster in 1984, Paul Gigot in 2000, Dorothy Rabinowitz in 2001, and Bret Stephens in 2013.
Two summaries published in 1995 by the progressive blog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and in 1996 by the Columbia Journalism Review criticized the Journal's editorial page for inaccuracy during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Journal describes the history of its editorials:
They are united by the mantra "free markets and free 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. As former editor William H. Grimes wrote in 1951:
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, in 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. Just as radical as the Christian doctrine.
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 the bounty of America. It was written by a former editor, Vermont C. Royster, whose Christmas article In Hoc Anno Domini, has appeared every December 25 since 1949.
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 economic concepts such as the Laffer curve, and how a decrease in certain marginal tax rates and the capital gains tax could allegedly 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. For example, the Journal was a major supporter of the Chinese yuan's peg to the dollar, and strongly disagreed with American politicians who criticized the Chinese government about the peg. It opposed China's move to let the yuan gradually float, arguing that the fixed rate benefited both the United States and China.
The Journal's views compare with those of the British publication The Economist, with its emphasis on free markets. However, the Journal demonstrates important distinctions from European business newspapers, most particularly in regard to the relative significance of, and causes of, the American budget deficit. (The Journal generally points to the lack of foreign growth, while business journals in Europe and Asia blame the low savings rate and concordant high borrowing rate in the United States).
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 places the Journal as an opponent of most conservative activists and politicians, for example National Review, who favor heightened restrictions on immigration.
The Journal in recent years has strongly defended Scooter 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 of Lyndon LaRouche, a fringe conspiracy theorist and perennial presidential candidate.
Some former The Wall Street Journal reporters have said that since Rupert Murdoch bought the paper, news stories have been edited to adopt a more conservative tone, critical of Democrats. The op-ed section routinely publishes articles by scientists skeptical of the theory of global warming, including several essays by Richard Lindzen of MIT. Similarly, the Journal has refused to publish opinions of prominent scientists with opposing conclusions.
Both the Journal and Reuters Chinese language editions were blocked by the Chinese government in October, 2013, reportedly after they had published unflattering stories about “Chinese elites”. They were unblocked at the beginning of January, 2014.
The Journal's editors stress the independence and impartiality of their reporters. In a 2004 study, Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo calculated the ideological bias of 20 media outlets by counting the frequency they cited particular think tanks and comparing that to the frequency that legislators cited the same think tanks. They found that the news reporting of The Journal was the most liberal, more liberal than NPR or The New York Times. The study did not factor in editorials. Mark Liberman criticized the model used to calculate bias in the study and argued that the model unequally affected liberals and conservatives and that "think tank ideology[...]only matters to liberals."
The company's planned and eventual acquisition by News Corp. in 2007 led to significant media criticism and discussion about whether the news pages would exhibit a rightward slant under Rupert Murdoch. An August 1 editorial responded to the questions by asserting that Murdoch intended to "maintain the values and integrity of the Journal."
The Journal has won more than 30 Pulitzer Prizes in its history. Staff journalists who led some of the newspaper's best-known coverage teams have later published books that summarized and extended their reporting.
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 more than two dozen 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.
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 went on to serve as the paper's senior deputy managing editor before resigning in 2009. Stewart expanded on this theme in his book, Den of Thieves.
David Sanford, a Page One features editor who was infected with HIV in 1982 in a bathhouse, 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 six other reporters wrote about the new treatments, political and economic issues, and won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting about AIDS.
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 September 2000. Rebecca Smith and John R. Emshwiller reported on the story regularly, and wrote a book, 24 Days.
The Wall Street Journal claims to have sent the first news report, on the Dow Jones wire, of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Its headquarters, at One World Financial Center, 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 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 Center 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 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 worldwide investigation of the causes and significance of 9/11, using contacts it had developed while covering business in the Arab world. In Kabul, Afghanistan, a The Wall Street Journal reporter bought a pair of looted computers that Al Qaeda leaders had used to plan assassinations, chemical and biological attacks, and mundane daily activities. The encrypted files were decrypted and translated. It was during this coverage that terrorists kidnapped and killed Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
In 2007, the paper won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, with its iconic Gold Medal, for exposing companies that illegally backdate stock options they awarded executives to increase their value.
Kate Kelly wrote a three-part series that detailed events that led to the collapse of Bear Stearns.
A report published on September 30, 2010 detailing allegations McDonald's had plans to drop health coverage for hourly employees drew criticism from McDonald's as well as the Obama administration. The WSJ reported the plan to drop coverage stemmed from new health care requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. McDonald's called the report "speculative and misleading," stating they had no plans to drop coverage. The WSJ report and subsequent rebuttal received coverage from several other media outlets.
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