Sunday, May 19, 2013

Newspaper Review: The Wall Street Journal

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Well presented news with little gossipy fluff
Cons: Price (but it is worth it)
The Bottom Line:
Cuts through all the fluff
For the news you really need
Business and world

Not Just for Business News

Despite being a business major, I didn't first pick up The Wall Street Journal until I was a junior in college.  I had transferred to a new college at the time, and the business department had a subscription.  At first, I was curious.  Then I was hooked.  In fact, the professors got used to seeing me spending an hour or two every afternoon after my classes were done reading the articles that caught my eye.  I've got to admit I've gotten away from it, but my roommate has a subscription now, so I've been able to see the quality is still the same.

Before I started looking at The Wall Street Journal, I thought it was only about business.  While that is the focus of about half the paper, the other half is about news.  In fact, the first section focuses almost exclusively on news stories.  They've covered the current wars and the politics of the day.  They'll talk about national and international news.  The first section also has the editorials.  Unsurprisingly, the editorial slant is in favor of free enterprise and commerce, so they do tend to have a conservative slant.  But that bias doesn't enter into their straight reporting stories.  You can get more facts from one article here than you can from watching hours of any of the 24 hour news networks.

The second two sections deal with business.  The "B" section focuses almost exclusively on business news.  Here, you'll get articles about unexpected profits or losses, new items (the Apple iPad took quite a bit of space in Thursday's edition), and mergers to name a few.  There will also be more about any government programs that might directly influence the business world.

The "C" section gets to financial markets.  Here, you'll find out about how the markets did the previous day and get some speculation as to why.  They also do highlight how some specific stocks are doing, although they don't give you an exhaustive list.

They do deal some with culture in the final section of the paper.  But they don't devolve into gossip and speculation.  Instead, they review new media and report on pop culture trends.  Frankly, I find the lack of gossip a nice break from so much of today's "news."

This is not a place to turn to for investing advice or learning how to invest.  Yes, there is some of that at times in the paper.  But instead it reports on business and assumes people have already learned how to interpret that information to make smart investing decisions.

Frankly, that is one thing I appreciate most about the paper.  They assume their audience in intelligent.  It takes a little while to get the style down, but once you do, it is nice not to be talked down to by a paper.

On days when you are in a hurry, there is a two column summary on the front page entitled "What's New."  One column gives you the business headlines, the other world news headlines, with a sentence or two of more information.  If there is an article, they tell you where you can find it.  Once you're done with that, you have the highlights of what is happening in the world.

The old adage "You get what you pay for" certainly applies here.  The Wall Street Journal is expensive.  A subscription to the paper, which comes out five days a week, is $119 for a year.  They do have an on line site.  Some of the articles are free, but some of the content is by subscription only.  The subscription is $103 for a year.  Or you can subscribe to both for $139.  There are ways to get discounts on that, however, if you are willing to look around for specials.  Either way, it is certainly more expensive than your average paper.  But the content is superior enough to make it worth the expense.

For someone who used to say the only part of the paper worth reading is the comics section to praise The Wall Street Journal so highly tells you how good their news coverage is.  If you want news accurately reported without the hype and gossip, this is the newspaper for you.

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