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Clarence Walker Barron

Clarence Walker Barron

[bar-uhn]
Barron, Clarence Walker, 1855-1928, American financial editor, b. Boston. He worked on the Boston Daily News, then on the Evening Transcript, and in 1887 founded the Boston News Bureau, to supply financial news to brokers. In 1897 he founded the Philadelphia News Bureau and in 1901 became publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Barron's Financial Weekly was founded by him in 1921. His notes of conversations with leading financiers, edited by Arthur Pound and S. T. Moore, are published as They Told Barron (1930) and More They Told Barron (1931).
Clarence W. Barron (July 2 1855, in Boston, MassachusettsOctober 2 1928) is one of the most influential figures in the history of Dow Jones & Company. As a career newsman described as a "short, rotund powerhouse," he died holding the posts of president of Dow Jones and de facto manager of The Wall Street Journal. He is considered the founder of modern financial journalism.

Early life

Barron graduated from Boston's Graduate English High School in 1873. He married Jessie M. Waldron in 1900 and adopted her daughters, Jane and Martha. Mrs. Barron died in 1918. After Jane married Hugh Bancroft in 1907, Barron became a prominent member of the Boston Brahmin Bancroft family. Martha Barron married H. Wendell Endicott, heir apparent to the Endicott Shoe Company. Mr. & Mrs. Barron and the Endicotts are buried in a joint family plot at the historic Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Barron worked at a number of newspapers throughout his life, including the Boston Daily News and the Boston Evening Transcript, the latter from 1875 to 1887. He founded the Boston News Bureau in 1887 and the Philadelphia News Bureau in 1897, supplying financial news to brokers.

Dow Jones & Company

In March 1903, he purchased Dow Jones & Company for $130,000, following the death of co-founder Charles Dow. In 1912, he appointed himself president, a title he held until his death and one which allowed him control of The Wall Street Journal; while the Woodworths published the paper.

He expanded the reach of his publishing empire by merging his two news bureaus into Dow Jones. By 1920, he had expanded the daily circulation of The Wall Street Journal from 7,000 to 18,750, and over 50,000 by 1930. He also worked hard to modernize operations by introducing modern printing presses and expanding the reporting corps.

In 1921, he founded the Dow Jones financial journal, Barron's National Financial Weekly, later renamed Barron's Magazine, and served as its first editor. He priced the magazine at 10 cents an issue and saw circulation explode to 30,000 by 1926, with high popularity among investors and financiers.

Legacy

After his death, his responsibilities were split between his son-in-law Hugh Bancroft, who became president of Dow Jones, and his friend Kenneth C. Hogate, who became the managing editor of the Journal.

They Told Barron (1930) and More They Told Barron (1931), two books edited by Arthur Pound and S.T. Moore, were published that showed his close connections and his role as a confidant to top financiers from New York City society, such as Charles M. Schwab. As a result, he has been called "the diarist of the American Dream." (Reutter 148) This has led to allegations that he was too close to those he covered.

However, Barron was renowned for pushing for deep scrutiny of corporate financial records, and is thus considered the founder of modern financial journalism. Barron's personal credo, which he supposedly urged the Journal to print and follow, was "The Wall Street Journal must stand for what is best in Wall Street." For example, in 1913, he gave testimony to the Massachusetts Public Service Commission regarding a slush fund held by the New Haven Railroad. In 1920 he investigated Charles Ponzi, inventor of the Ponzi scheme, for the Boston Post. His aggressive questioning and common-sense reasoning helped lead to Ponzi's arrest and conviction.

The Bancroft family remained the majority shareholder of Dow Jones until July 31, 2007 when Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. won the support of 32 percent of the Dow Jones voting shares controlled by the Bancroft family, enough to ensure a comfortable margin of victory.

Trivia

  • He published a racist tract, The Mexican Problem in 1917, juxtaposing the economic potential of Mexico's resources against his belief in the racial inferiority of the Mexican people.
  • He helped endow the Clarke School for the Deaf with two million dollars, and proposed naming it the Coolidge Trust after President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace. (Roberts 225)
  • He was sued for defamation for $100,000 by Princess Margaret Nchika of Romania in April 1927, who said he called her a spy at a dinner. The suit was dismissed.
  • Clarence W. Barron's former Boston mansion is located at 334 Beacon Street, on the banks of the Charles River. The property was converted into condominiums in the 1980s, but to this day the mansion is well-maintained.
  • On March 31, 2007 a portrait of Clarence W. Barron was donated to the Beacon on the Charles Condominium Trust, and is now prominently displayed on the parlor level of his former Beacon Street home.

Books

  • The Boston Stock Exchange (1893)
  • Federal Reserve Act (1914)
  • The Audacious War (1915)
  • The Mexican Problem (1917)
  • War Finance, As Viewed From the Roof of the World in Switzerland (1919)
  • World Remaking; or, Peace Finance (1920)
  • Lord's Money(1922)
  • Twenty-Eight Essays on the Federal Reserve Act (unk.)
  • My Creed (unk.)
  • They Told Barron (1930)
  • More They Told Barron (1931)

Quotations

About financial journalism

If we are live wires, we can so project financial truth that it will, at times, illumine the path of the investor. We should not usurp his prerogative of selecting, guessing or predicting but should steadily seek to illuminate his forward path.

You are in the field to defend the public interest, the financial truth for investors and the funds that should support the widow and the orphan.

About himself

I believe in service. I believe in the laws, in the happiness, in the mutuality of service. I know no other happiness, I know no other laws. There is no other happiness; there are no other laws. In The Wall Street Journal, I have sought to create a service. I have striven for a creation so founded in principles that it can live as a service--live so long as it abides in the laws of that service. I believe there is no higher service from government, from society, from journalism than the protection and upbuilding of the savings of the people. Savings in the United States may become investments, when guided by financial knowledge, more readily than in any other country of the world.

Wall Street steadily improves and increases its service to the whole country by reflecting the true position of American and world investments. The Wall Street Journal must stand for the best that is in Wall Street and reflect that which is best in United States finance. Its motto is: 'The Truth in its proper use.'

From others

No one worked harder than Mr. Barron in an effort to educate the people as to the real values of securities and finance in general. He exposed what was bad and exploited what was good. —William E. Hazen, author of Broad Street Gossip

C.W. Barron never ceased being a reporter, and perhaps some of the cubs hearing him refer to himself as 'a reporter' thought he was joking, but he preferred that title even though he was 'big chief.' —Oliver J. Gingold, longtime reporter for The Wall Street Journal

He was a master of finance, adamant in demands for accuracy to the last detail in a complicated financial situation. —Kenneth C. Hogate, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal

References

  • Roberts, John B. Rating the First Ladies. ISBN 0-8065-2608-4
  • Reutter, Mark. Making Steel. ISBN 0-252-07233-2

Personalities of Wall Street

See List of personalities associated with Wall Street.

External links

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