Growing up, I always knew that The Wall Street Journal was the place to go for business news. In the fifth grade, we would use it to look up stock prices in our class stock market game. My Grandpa Joe would read The Journal every day, dutifully updating his portfolio value on a handwritten spreadsheet before anyone I knew had a computer at home.
But I didn’t truly understand the value of this famed news source until I got to college. Like many of my peers, I would grab a free copy of The Wall Street Journal and its pink cousin, Financial Times, on my way to class.
More than a decade later, I still look to The Wall Street Journal as one of the most authoritative sources on business and the financial markets.
This newspaper, in digital or paper form, may be useful to a wide range of investors. Read on to learn more.
What Is The Wall Street Journal?
The Wall Street Journal is a daily newspaper first published in 1889. Today, it's available both in print and online. I used to subscribe to the paper version, but these days I get the paper only on the web or through a mobile app.
The paper is one of the most popular in the United States. In 2018, the company claimed a daily circulation of 2.4 million copies, of which 1.6 million are digital subscribers. It ranks as one of the most-read newspapers in the U.S. just about any way you measure it.
It is published in New York City and owned by News Corp. News Corp is controlled by the conservative Murdoch family, who also own Fox News. While The Wall Street Journal does tend to favor conservative, pro-business positions, it's widely respected and typically doesn't show the heavy biases seen at Fox News.
History of The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is a news organization with a long history. It's been printed continuously since July 8, 1889. The paper was founded by Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser. You may recognize some of those names. Dow Jones & Company is still the name of the parent company of The Wall Street Journal. (News Corp owns Dow Jones & Company.) The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a major stock index, also bears the name.
(Side note: The Edward Jones investment company was founded by a different Edward Jones and has no relationship to the paper.)
Over the years, The Wall Street Journal has been controlled by Clarence Barron, who launched the weekly Barron’s magazine, and later the wealthy Bancroft Family. In 2007, Rupert Murdoch purchased the controlling interest to expand his growing media network.
Biases and Controversies
Like all newspapers, The Wall Street Journal has landed in hot water on more than one occasion. It's known to be a conservative-leaning news source, but that typically shows up only in the editorial and opinion sections.
The paper moved farther right under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch and has been notable in its criticisms of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and its support of Donald Trump. Overall, however, journalists are given independence and are known for a neutral stance and nonpartisan reporting.
What to Look for in The Wall Street Journal
I spend a few minutes every single morning flipping through the “What’s News” section. It's always prominent on the homepage, and I also receive it as a daily email. Browsing this section quickly fills you in on the important stories of the day, giving you a few key details. It primes you for a deeper read on stories that interest you.
Popular articles in the app or on the website tell you what’s trending right now, which may be a key indicator for active investors. Major topics include U.S. news, world news, business, politics, tech, and markets.
Whether your subscription is print or digital-only, consider adding The Wall Street Journal app to your smartphone. The app gives you breaking news alerts and makes it easy to catch up on the news while in the bathroom taking a short coffee break.
Who Should Subscribe to The Wall Street Journal?
The Wall Street Journal is a must-read publication for any active investor. Passive investors who want a better understanding of the economy, business and the forces that influence their money and investments would also likely benefit from a subscription.
There are usually good introductory offers available for new subscribers, but a regular subscription isn’t cheap. You may want to sign up for the introductory period to test it out at a lower cost while deciding if it is worthwhile for you in the long run.
If your investments are a major income source, you may be able to deduct the cost of a Wall Street Journal subscription. Check with your tax advisor to learn more.
It's true that you can get most business news for free online, but the quality of The Wall Street Journal makes it well worth the cost to millions of daily readers. While I count myself among them, paying $20–40 per month for news may not make sense for everyone. But if you want cutting-edge information on business and the financial markets, there are few sources that come close to the quality you get from The Wall Street Journal.