The Early Beginnings of the “WSJ”

Charles Dow was a young reporter working for the “Kiernan Wall Street Financial News Bureau.” At his recommendation, it brought on board Dow’s older friend, Edward Davis Jones. The two quickly proved to be an excellent team. Dow was the idea man, while, it was said Jones could dissect and analyze a financial report “with the speed and accuracy of a skilled surgeon.”

In 1882, the two opened their own financial news agency, the Dow, Jones & Company,Inc. Their original headquarters was in a small back room in the basement of Henry Danielson’s candy store on Wall street. The story is told that this fledgling news agency scored its first beat with a story on the Standard Oil Trust, a company notorious for secrecy. Its trustee, testifying before Congress, characterized Standard Oil as having “two purposes, two principles: making money and making no noise about it.”

Dow, Jones persisted in trying to find out what Standard Oil’s John D. Rockefeller was up to. Jones succeeded in interviewing William Rockefeller, John D’s brother and New York Representative. Jones was amazed when Rockefeller said to him, “Why don’t you send your bulletins down to Eighteen Broadway?”  That address was Standard Oil’s headquarters at the time. As if that weren’t enough, Rockefeller’s next suggestion was, “Would it mean anything in particular to you to get a little advance Standard Oil news?”

This was the little paper’s first beat. It was off and running.

I write of the history of the “Wall Street Journal” in my book:  “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”.

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