WSJ.com turns 25, shows legacy of innovation
Wall Street Journal editor in chief Matt Murray sent out the following to the staff on Thursday:
Today marks a significant date in the history of The Wall Street Journal. On April 29, 1996, what was then called The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition officially debuted to serve the hearty pioneers who were tentatively beginning to explore the strange idea of reading news on their desktop computers.
The early WSJ.com was a faithful correlate of the print paper of that era, right down to the prominent “What’s News” column and the prominence of stories labeled “Front Section.” Here’s how it looked a few weeks after launch:
In our own article on the launch, we described the new Interactive Edition as an electronic newspaper on the “burgeoning Internet” (“burgeoning” used to be a favorite WSJ adjective, alas) that would be published seven days a week—when print only came out five—and would include significant new features like the ability to track stocks through the day. Editor Paul Steiger described the initiative as an effort to expand the Journal’s remit to keep readers informed and involved in a “profoundly different medium.”
As Almar noted, wsj.com was unique in the industry for launching with a plan to charge customers, believing that quality news and information was necessary and worth paying for. It was an idea that was challenged, debated and even ridiculed for years—and of course ended up taking over the industry. Today it undergirds our business.
Journalists know better than anybody that genuine revolutions aren’t always apparent in the moment. But all of us at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones today should be inspired by the original architects of WSJ.com (some of whom are still at Dow Jones) for the foresight they showed and the foundation they laid. In a constantly evolving landscape, we have become a thriving digital business and product, with the most subscribers and most readers in our history.
While our print paper remains large, vital and important, we have over time developed our operations, processes and offerings to meet a series of digital moments, bringing us features, stories, talents and members we could scarcely have imagined a quarter-century ago and putting digital journalism at the center of our newsroom.
And thanks to all of those who have come through the Journal and Dow Jones over that time, we have done so while preserving and even strengthening the core values that lie at the heart of our journalism and distinguish the Journal.
As you all know, I’m not very big on anniversary coverage for its own sake. But today’s anniversary is worth marking. We have a proud legacy of innovation. The need for our continuing evolution remains as urgent as ever—and the opportunities for us keep growing. It may be the 25th anniversary of WSJ.com, but we’re still writing the early chapters of this story and big things lie ahead.