The First Electronic Church of America
As FECHA celebrates the glories and the wonders of the electronic age, we are drawn to the living heroes who keep making things happen. So pay attention now to Peter Kann. As Chairman of the Board of the Wall Street Journal's parent company, Dow Jones, and Chief Executive Officer and Publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Kann makes things happen.
The Journal is the largest fully-paid circulation daily in the U.S. As such, you'd expect its editors to think of themselves as "in the newspaper business."
They don't. They're in information -- however it is conveyed. "In our business," they said in a recent full-page ad in the Journal, "content and customers matter most. Trees and wires are simply different means to the same end -- serving the worldwide business community with the most useful, authoritative and essential business news and information in any form or time or place."
Stock tickers -- and their most-modern counterparts -- have long been a staple of Dow Jones, supplying the world's financial communities with everything they need to know every hour of the day or night.
Now, the Wall Street Journal has gone electronic. Thanks to the miracle of satellite communications, the Journal can print essentially the same paper for seven million readers, five days a week in 40 printing plants around the world simultaneously. Now, another miracle: the Journal has attracted more than a half million registered readers to its Interactive Edition on the Web. They effected this breakthrough in three months, and Web watchers are still coming on at a rate of 20,000 a week.
Most of these Webbers are not current readers of the Journal. Still, the print editions of the Journal continue to gain readers -- up two percent so far this year in the U.S., and more than six percent in Europe and Asia.
With annual revenues of more than $2 billion a year, clearly the Journal is big business. Interestingly enough, the man who leads Dow Jones, Peter Kann, does not come from the business side of the company. After he graduated from Harvard, where he was political editor of the Crimson, he joined the Journal as a reporter in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, and then, in 1967, became the Journal's first resident reporter in Vietnam. In 1972, he received a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished reporting on international affairs for his coverage of the India-Pakistan war. In 1976, he became the first editor and publisher of the Asian Wall Street Journal. He started moving up the corporate ladder in New York in 1979. Ten years later, he became president and CEO of Dow Jones.
As FECHA sees it, Kann and his colleagues at Dow Jones are genuine heroes of the electronic age, because they dare to move, swiftly and adroitly, with the lightning-like changes that have been occuring in the information business for the past decade.
There's one sour note in all this. For some, still-to-be-explained reasons, Dow Jones counts among its board members one Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the self-exiled, ex-president of Mexico, who disappeared shortly after his elder brother, Raul, was arrested and charged with financial wrongdoing and masterminding the murder of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the secretary general of Mexico's ruling party, the PRI. Raul may have enriched himself to the tune of more than $200 million during his brother's six-year presidency.
So far, Carlos, the diminutive ex-president and Harvard grad, has not been charged with any crimes. He has a lot of explaining to do, but, so far, has eluded reporters (including reporters for the Wall Street Journal) trying to track him down. Imagine their surprise last April when Carlos Salinas de Gortari sauntered into a board meeting of Dow Jones on the 43d floor of the World Trade Center in New York City. A spokesman for Dow Jones say other board members seem comfortable with Salinas's continued presence on the board. ("He hasn't even been accused of anything.") The spokesman could not say how or why Salinas, who purportedly owns no stock in Dow Jones, was ever named to the board in the first place.