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.
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.
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.
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.
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.'
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