INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MEDIA: A SHORT HISTORY OF BUSINESS MEDIA - They started with the Corn Laws, benefited from industrialism and World War II and thrived in the TV age. Tim Woolgar looks at how business media have evolved to meet the changing demands o

1843 The Economist

1843 The Economist

Founded by the businessman, James Wilson, as a one-sheet newspaper in

support of the repeal of the Corn Laws, its mission statement was and

remains ’to support the cause of free trade’. Wilson became an MP but

continued editing the title until 1857, three years before his


Subsequent editors include the political thinker (and Wilson’s

son-in-law), Walter Bagehot, from 1861 to 1877, and Alastair Burnett

(before he became a newscaster or knight) between 1965 and 1974. The

Pearson group bought a half share in the magazine in 1934. The Economist

sells on newsstands and by subscription in 180 countries, with 82 per

cent of sales international.

Weekly, circulation 680,000*, London-based, owners: Pearson/the


1887 International Herald Tribune

The International Herald Tribune started life as the Paris Herald, a

European edition of the New York Herald. It introduced linotype,

half-tone engravings and became the first newspaper distributed by plane

when morning editions were flown to London in 1928. Following a merger

with the New York Tribune, the newly formed Herald Tribune was bought by

the US Ambassador to Britain, John Hay Whitney, in 1959. The New York

paper closed in 1966 but a merger with the Washington Post and the New

York Times produced the International Herald Tribune in 1967. The Post

and the Times purchased Whitney’s interest in 1991. Today the paper has

15 printing sites worldwide and appears in 180 countries. Sixty three

per cent of readers live in Europe, 19 per cent in Asia and 14 per cent

in America.

Daily, circulation 210,141, Paris-based, owners: the Washington Post and

the New York Times Inc

1887 The Wall Street Journal

The WSJ began life in 1882 as a handwritten flimsy, the ’Customers

Afternoon Newsletter’, produced by three young reporters - Charles Dow,

Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser - for subscribers on Wall Street.

Clarence Barron, the regional correspondent, bought the company in 1902

prompting a circulation boom and introducing a telegraphic business news

service. Further expansion followed Bernard Kilgore’s appointment as

managing editor of the WSJ and chief executive of Dow Jones in the 40s.

The first international edition, the Wall Street Journal Asia

(circulation 59,309) appeared in 1976 and the Wall Street Journal Europe

(circulation 68,595) followed in 1983.

Bannered and translated pages appear in national newspapers worldwide

giving the brand a circulation topping nine million.

Daily, circulation 1.8 million, New York-based, owner: Dow Jones &


1888 Financial Times

For the first 50 years of its life, the FT competed with the Financial

News, a financial daily launched in 1884. The two rivals merged in 1945

under the chairmanship of the News’ Brendan Bracken, who stuck with the

FT’s title and pink newsprint. In 1957, Pearson bought the paper. The

first internationally available edition appeared in Frankfurt in 1979, a

New York print site opened in 1985 and distribution expanded

internationally throughout the 80s. The FT introduced regional variation

in its editorial coverage only last year with a US edition (circulation

57,000) and an international edition with a European bias (circulation

128,000). The FT is now printed in nine countries worldwide.

Daily, circulation 350,000, London-based, owner: Pearson

1923 Time magazine

Two former Yale classmates, Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, began

publishing Time in 1923 with a staff of four and plans for a national

magazine. World War II provided the platform for global expansion.

Between 1941 and 1946 Time launched editions for Latin America, Canada,

the Atlantic region and Asia. The South Pacific edition first appeared

in 1961. Domestic circulation tops 4.15 million and Time can boast that

ten copies of the magazine are sold somewhere in the world every second.

Time is now the flagship of the publishing arm of Time Warner, following

its merger with Warner Communications in 1989. A further merger with

Turner Broadcasting System in 1996 created one of the world’s biggest

media conglomerates.

Weekly, circulation 1.5 million, New York-based, owner: Time Warner

1929 BusinessWeek

Part of the McGraw-Hill publishing empire, the title went international

in 1981 off the back of the domestic success of the long-running

BusinessWeek magazine. There are three customised editions covering

Europe (circulation 80,672), Asia (circulation 64,470) and Latin America

(circulation 25,664).

Subscriptions make up 85 per cent of sales. Local language editions also

appear several times a year in China, Poland and Russia.

Weekly, circulation 170,000, New York-based, owner: McGraw-Hill


1930 Fortune

Aimed at wealthy readers, self-selected by the dollars 11-a-year

subscription fee, Fortune in the 1930s was the magazine for captains of

industry and quickly established a small but influential international


Launched by Henry Luce, the visionary founder of Time, it remains part

of the Time publishing stable. In the early 90s the magazine appeared to

stagnate but John Huey, appointed editor in 1995, modernised the content

and revitalised its interests. Of its English-language circulation, 20

per cent goes outside North America. In South America, Spanish and

Portuguese-language editions sell 1.5 million copies and Fortune China

has just been launched.

Bi-weekly, circulation 950,000, New York-based, owner: Time Warner

1933 Newsweek

Starting with a staff of 22 and a circulation of 50,000, Newsweek had

opened print sites in Canada, Tokyo and Paris by 1945 and in 1961 was

snapped up by the Washington Post. The first content-specific

international editions appeared in Latin America and the Atlantic region

in 1972. An Asian edition followed in 1978. Newsweek publishes Japanese,

Korean and Russian-language editions with a combined circulation of

345,000, while domestic sales in the US top 3.25 million. The magazine

has a 75 per cent subscriber base.

Weekly, circulation 691,030, New York-based, owner: the Washington


1985 CNN International

The international sister network of the Turner Broadcasting System-owned

CNN achieved worldwide recognition for its Gulf War coverage. Turner

merged with Time Warner in 1996 and the appointment of Chris Cramer as

president of CNN International resulted in the regionalisation of

content and schedules to provide four broadcast zones:

Europe/Middle-East/Africa; Asia/Pacific; Latin America and the United

States. Live breaking news coverage runs alongside a strong business

news output and a range of feature programming.

Daily, European reach 1.46 million, New York-based, owner: Time


1989 CNBC

In 1989 the European and Asian divisions of CNBC merged with their Dow

Jones rivals, European Business News and Asian Business News. The

service is now available in 51 million homes in Europe via cable and


CNBC divisions outside Europe and Asia remain wholly owned by NBC, the

various parts being tailored as a global brand covering 175 million

households and businesses.

Daily, European reach 239,000, New York-based, owners: NBC and Dow Jones

& Co

1990 The European

Launched by the late Robert Maxwell, the original three-section paper

encompassed news, business and culture. Following Maxwell’s death in

1992, the European was bought by David and Frederick Barclay, who

appointed Andrew Neil editor-in-chief in December 1996. It was

relaunched as an A3 business title in January this year. Readers are

mostly UK businessmen at home and abroad.

Weekly, circulation 111,000, London-based, owners: Barclay Brothers

1992 Bloomberg Magazine

When Michael Bloomberg was sacked from his job on Wall Street in 1981 he

used a dollars 10 million pay-off to launch Bloomberg, supplying

terminals and on-line information to financial traders. The magazine is

supplied free on a closed distribution basis to anyone with a Bloomberg

terminal (costing dollars 1,500 per month). The initial circulation of

25,000 climbed steadily as the parent business expanded. The magazine

includes tips on using Bloomberg terminals, financial and economic

articles and general interest features.

Monthly, circulation 130,000 (including US), New York-based, owner:


1993 EuroNews

The station has lost pounds 22 million since its launch by SECEMIE, a

group of 18 European public service broadcasters. The French

Telecommunications group, Alcatel Alstholm, purchased a 49 per cent

stake in 1995 for pounds 10.7 million. With EuroNews continuing to lose

money, ITN snapped up Alcatel’s holding for pounds 5.1 million and took

operating control in November 1997, promising to break-even within two

years. EuroNews is available via cable, satellite and terrestrial

transmissions in 91 million homes. It will unveil a new look and

schedule in November.

Daily, European reach 1.03 million, Lyons-based, owners: ITN and


1994 Bloomberg Television

Bloomberg’s television service, carrying a mix of text and pictures,

launched in the UK in 1995. Aimed at anyone with an interest in the

finance industry, the English-language service is transmitted via

satellite and cable through most of Europe plus South Africa, Russia and

the Middle East. The last two years have seen local start-ups in Italy,

France, Spain and Germany. The station is aiming to broaden its market

and last year changed its name from Bloomberg Business News to Bloomberg


Daily, European reach 122,000, New York-based, owner: Bloomberg

1995 BBC World

BBC World Service Television was set up in 1991 supplying Asia and the

Middle East via satellite. It expanded rapidly into Japan, Africa and

Europe and three years ago split into BBC Prime - supplying

entertainment and educational programming - and BBC World, supplying

news and current affairs. It is available via cable and satellite in 187

countries and 55 million homes worldwide. BBC World is making inroads

into the American market and there are plans to launch a 24-hour channel

in the United States next year.

Daily, European reach 219,000, London-based, owner: BBC Worldwide

1998 Forbes Global Business & Finance

Launched in April to build on the success of the original Forbes

magazine, founded in 1917 by Bertie Forbes. Inspired by his former

employer, William Randolph Hearst, Forbes’ vision was to create the

quintessential ’capitalist tool’. His son, Malcolm, became the

quintessential tycoon financed by a domestic circulation which climbed

to 800,000. Forbes Global Business & Finance is a new player in

international publishing with 44,000 copies sold in Europe and Asia, 80

per cent by subscription.

Bi-weekly, circulation 50,000, New York-based, owner: Forbes Global

*Circulation figures, referring to English-language editions outside the

United States, supplied by publishers. Daily European reach quoted from

1998 EMS (European Media Survey published by InterView).


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