Wall Street Journal vs Other Financial Newspapers: Our Review

by Jeremy C Bradley on 2011-12-282

Click Here For The Wall Street Journal

When I used to work on Wall Street some years ago. But before you would-be occupiers get too irate, I’ll assure you that I worked for a non-profit organization that had its headquarters on Wall Street. No, I wasn’t a big banker. But as part of my job, I had to keep an eye on general market trends and sociopolitical events that affected the organization’s holdings and donor relations. I almost instantly subscribed to the New York Times and was an avid subscriber and reader for almost two years. A few years after that, I worked for a Wall Street law firm. It was at this point that I also began reading the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which was instrumental for quenching my thirst for political and financial news. I’m still a reader today, though I prefer the iPad App to the print version.

Knowing what I know about the WSJ, I thought to discuss its pros and cons. I’d like to compare price, quality, and availability of the Wall Street Journal as compared to the New York Times, the Investor’s Business Daily and other financial publications. And I’ll also share my general opinions on the WSJ and give my thoughts on whether it’s worth subscribing to.

Who Reads The Wall Street Journal?

You may be surprised to learn that The Wall Street Journal is the largest newspaper by circulation in the United States. There are over two million copies in circulation each day including just over 400,000 online subscribers. The Journal’s main U.S. competitor is USA Today (which has comparable subscriber numbers and circulators), whereas the Journal’s main international competitors are the Financial Times and Investor’s Business Daily with readership along the same lines. In New York, the WSJ and the New York Times go head to head. This is understandable since both newspapers cover the American economy, international business, and financial data.

What’s In The Wall Street Journal?

What makes The Wall Street Journal worth reading? This is a question that is particularly important to investors, and as the name suggests, to those concerned with happenings on Wall Street. Whereas papers like the New York Times also include culture, style, and lifestyle sections, WSJ focuses on matters of concern to investors and business people, but will include more mainstream or populist topics on occasion. The breakdown is as follows:

Subject Matter
Front Page Everyday Business News, Politics, Economic Reports, Opinion Pieces
Marketplace Weekdays Biotech, Media, and Advertising Industries
Money & Investing Everyday International Finance
Personal Journal Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Personal Investing, Culture
Weekend Journal Friday Real Estate, Travel, Sports

The Wall Street Journal is all about finance and investing but you’ll also find cultural interest stories three days a week, as well as travel, real estate, and sports stories once a week. You’ll also notice that the Monday-Friday editions are much larger than the weekday editions. This is in marked difference to many other newspapers (including The New York Times) that tend to publish their largest editions on Sundays.

Comparing The Wall Street Journal to Other Publications

The pros and cons of choosing WSJ depend on what type of reader you are and what you’re looking for in a newspaper. This table will help to show the differences:

Wall Street Journal Other Publications
Large Weekday Editions Large Sunday Editions
Focus on finance and investing Focus on general stories and hot topics
Limited culture and human interest coverage Whole lifestyle and culture sections
Appeals to business people and investors Appeals to a broader audience

What may seem like a drawback for one reader is actually a benefit for another. Personally, I enjoy reading The Wall Street Journal because I’m primarily looking for news on business and politics. I like to check for investing trends and thus prefer the paper’s focus on financial opinion pieces. What’s notable here is that these are things that I haven’t found to be adequate in the New York Times or USA Today, but which certainly exist in the WSJ and in the Financial Times. But do note that while the Financial Times is aimed towards the London and international markets, the WSJ focuses on American and global markets.

Sign up for the Combination Print and Online WSJ. You can receive 8 weeks free. Subscribe To The Wall Street Journal (Print and Online), Get 8 Weeks Free.
Sign up for the Print Version of the WSJ. Get 2 weeks free. Subscribe To The Wall Street Journal Print, Get 2 Weeks Free.
Sign up for the Online Version of the WSJ. Get 4 weeks free. Subscribe To The Wall Street Journal Online (WSJ.com), Get 4 Weeks Free.

Here’s a point-by-point comparison between the WSJ, the Financial Times, and Investor’s Business Daily, to give you an idea of how they stack up. Note that the prices for these publications may change and we’ve provided them just for comparison purposes.

Wall Street Journal
Financial Times (London)
Investor’s Business Daily
Average Price (rates may change) $2.29/week $19.00/week $6.31/week
Political Slant Slightly right-wing / Murdoch-style Moderate, no noticeable slant Moderate, no noticeable slant
Support A+ for New York and U.S. Residents, B+ for International A for U.K. residents, B+ for International A all-around
Features Mainly business and financial news, limited lifestyle coverage Mostly financial news, business and politics; very little lifestyle coverage Market analysis, stock lists, and ratings tools; almost no lifestyle news
Demographic Well-established and business-oriented men and women Well-established international investors and general business people International investors, entrepreneurs
Overall Grade A- for consistency and reliability, docked for political slant B+ for good coverage and trustworthiness, docked for price B+ for international slant and price, docked for having no real lifestyle news

WSJ Print vs WSJ Online

The Wall Street Journal’s digital publications contain similar content. In addition to including the coverage we’ve mentioned, the online edition also contains several opinion pieces that may or may not appear in print. These include:

Column Title
Best of the Web Today Everyday James Taranto
Americas Monday Mary O’Grady
Global View Tuesday Bret Stephens
Business World Wednesday Holman W. Jenkins Jr.
Wonder Land Thursday Daniel Henninger
Potomac Watch Friday Kimberley Strassel
Rule of Law Weekends Various
The Weekend Interview Weekends Various interviews and interviewees
Declarations Weekends Peggy Noonan

Reviewing The Price and Quality of The WSJ

The Wall Street Journal has a wide readership and is available at most newspaper stands, grocery stores, big-box retailers and convenience stores. As a comparison in cost, we’ll use The New York Times, USA Today, and the Financial Times. Again, take note that rates are subject to change. The point here is to see how pricing compares on a relative basis.

Print Price (average)
Online Price
Wall Street Journal $2.29/week $3.99/week
New York Times $5.85/week $8.75/week
USA Today $2.49/week $2.27/week
Financial Times $19.00/week $6.70/week

As things stand right now, The Wall Street Journal is, hands-down, the least expensive newspaper in both print and digital format relative to its main competitors. If we compare apples-to-apples, the Financial Times is the Journal’s biggest competitor in terms of material and content, with the WSJ being much more affordable. Note that the digital version of the WSJ includes unlimited access to WSJ.com (web), smartphone and table applications.

But price isn’t everything, though. It’s also important to consider the quality and reputation of the paper.

The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp., which many consider to be a right-wing media conglomerate. Rupert Murdoch runs News Corp., which is affiliated with other media outlets including Fox News, The London Times, and the New York Post. However, the editors of the Journal have promised a non-partisan take on news and reporting. I have found this to be true with regards to the general coverage of financial and political stories. Opinion pieces, however, tend to favor more middle ground or conservative stances, with a liberal piece folded in on occasion.

The political affiliations of any periodical is something that readers should be aware of. These political stances can be a significant matter to some readers, and can make a difference from an editorial perspective. It is widely known that Rupert Murdoch, for instance, forced out former London Times editor Fred Emery when their political positions clashed. While we haven’t heard of something like this happening at the Journal (at least publicly), the possibility for such an eventuality does exist, so long as Murdoch’s company runs the operation.

Outside Opinions About This Financial Newspaper

Generally, reviews and opinions on The Wall Street Journal are favorable. The newspaper has won over thirty Pulitzer Prizes, including two awards in 2007. Both of those awards were for investigative reporting that covered backdated stock options and China’s economic strategy.

The Journal has also led award-winning reporting on topics outside the financial news, such as the subject of AIDS treatments and healthcare for employees at McDonald’s. So while the newspaper isn’t widely known for its non-financial or business-related stories, it does have a track record for consistently reporting on top-notch and timely subjects.

Is A Wall Street Journal Subscription Right For You?

So should you choose The Wall Street Journal? To help you make a decision, here are some questions for you to consider:

  1. Do you prefer to read investing and finance news?
    If so, then the Wall Street Journal is well worth a look.
  2. Do you prefer culture, politics, lifestyle, and general interest stories?
    If so, you may prefer reading USA Today, the New York Times, or another well-known newspaper. For readers like myself, the opinion sections and thought-provoking coverage in the Journal are suitable.
  3. Do you want to save as much money on your subscription as possible?
    In tough economic times, it makes sense to cut out unnecessary expenses whenever possible. You can, of course, visit the library to see if you can get your dose of the WSJ there, but if this is not a possibility then here’s a suggestion: if you’d like to save on costs, then I suggest subscribing to the WSJ online to get web, iPad or iPhone access to the Journal. These are low-cost, environmentally friendly options. I personally prefer using the WSJ iPad Application, and have been enjoying it for some time now.

Happy reading!

Created August 20, 2010. Updated December 28, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents December 29, 2011 at 10:06 am

There is so much information you can get free on the internet! I read as much as I can from a variety of sources. I like the Wall Street Journal, but it is not my only sources of financial information. This is the problem and solution for a lot of print journalism.

Silicon Valley Blogger December 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

That’s certainly the case, although a lot of people like the convenience of getting the paper as part of routine. My spouse, for example, refuses to let go of his New York Times subscription even though I insist that we don’t need this paper. It could be force of habit, or just the preference of dealing with an old-fashioned paper. With the Kindle, iPad and other eReaders around, you can always resort to free information (that’s how I roll), but others (usually older people I know), seem to cling to print.

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