Review & Outlook

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Thoughts on the 125th Anniversary of the Wall Street Journal

8 July, 2014 by Ben O'Brien in Commentary

Today the Wall Street Journal celebrated its 125th anniversary with a slew of interesting features such as a breakdown of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over 125 years and an interactive snapshot of the first issue which sold for two cents in 1896. It is remarkable that although so many companies have come and gone from the Dow over this period–including once powerful but long-forgotten names such as American Cotton Oil and Standard Rope and Twine–the Journal has survived and the American financial paper of record. Perhaps the most telling anecdote of how the paper has survived and adapted was that that the anniversary was the top “trending” hashtag on Twitter this morning, #WSJ125, symbolizing of the convergence of old media and new.

Though some venerable old media institutions like the Wall Street Journal still exist and have influence, most of them are barely viable businesses and are propped up by larger conglomerates or philanthropists. Earlier this year, for example,  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos acquired the Washington Post. We sometimes lament the decline of newspapers. Even the venerable Journal seems to have lost a step or two since its acquisition by the media giant News Corp, and we have been turning more to the Financial Times recently. However, the blogs and other financial sites that have risen up to fill the void left by the decline in traditional media more than makes up for the loss.

The fact that there are no longer just a handful of dominant media companies with an oligopoly is a good thing. With the proliferation of news and opinion on the web, there is more free high-quality financial information available to the average individual investor than ever before. The only problem is that this deluge of free information has its own dangers. It can be overwhelming, and while there is lots of good stuff there’s also a lot of sensationalism and lot of questionable advice floating around too. Most people need someone to help them sift through all of it to find the good stuff, which one reason why we started this blog. We recently expanded to join the conversation on Twitter also, where we post daily links and comments. Please take a look at our Twitter page where our name is @obriengreene.