The Founding of The Wall Street Journal

By Phineas Upham

During the latter portion of the twentieth century, New York reinvented itself as a media powerhouse. The Wall Street Journal was one of several brands native to the city that had recognition across the nation, and, in some cases, across the world too.

The Wall Street Journal was especially notable because it had been around almost as long as the New York Stock Exchange had. The Journal began as an index listing the bond prices from the New York Stock Exchange, with the “Review and Outlook” column making its debut ten years after the magazine’s initial release in 1889.

Clarence Barron, a prominent journalist at the time, purchased controlling shares in the magazine and attempted to grow circulation. His efforts proved successful. He pioneered financial journalism with a fearless attitude. Unfortunately, Barron died a year before the Great Depression and missed out on one of the most important stories he could have potentially told during his career.

During the 1940s, the Journal developed the iconic design of its front page that included the “What’s New” section. It was also during this time that the paper placed reporters in every major financial epicenter throughout the world, hoping to report on the goings on of Asia, Latin America and Europe.

The Journal also expanded during the 1970s, when it shifted away from stocks into general financial reporting as well. The Journal acquired “Factiva” during this period, which greatly influenced its reporting and fact checking. WSJ, a luxury lifestyle magazine, was later launched in 2008 as the company pivoted into a more consumer-focused journal.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.