SURVIVING TO THE AGE OF 100 is a corporate rarity. Starting at the bottom and climbing to the very top is also a remarkable achievement. The story of Dow Jones & Company, which has done both, has intrigued me and, I suspect, others for years.
The Wall Street Journal currently has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the United States. Many people consider it the nation's most influential newspaper as well. The corridors of power have long fascinated me, and after a brief meeting with a Dow Jones senior executive on a totally separate matter, I found myself stimulated by, and eventually deeply involved in, some interesting questions.
How did Dow Jones & Company come about? How has The Wall Street Journal earned the respect of so many readers? Does Dow Jones attempt to influence the destiny of corporations? Can a publishing empire with the power to affect the country's economy remain free of corruption and conflicts of interest? Most important, would the company live up to its acknowledged belief in a free press and permit an outsider to scrutinize its operations and delve into its seldom-seen archives?
An affirmative answer to that final question led me to undertake this task. I made the decision over a complimentary cup of coffee at 22 Cortland Street. I was sitting in the office of Everett Groseclose, who at that time was director of public affairs at Dow Jones. Groseclose looked me in the eye.
" Jerry," he said. "other than cooperating with you, we will provide no special treatment or favor, and likewise you will have no obligation to us."
That was my last free cup of coffee at Dow Jones. Ev and I shook hands, and I left for the library to commence my research.