Today in Media History: Wall Street Journal launched its first full online site in 1996

April 29, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

On April 29, 1996, The Wall Street Journal launched its first full online news site. It was called “The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition.”

The newspaper had earlier experimented with an online dialup service and a money & investing website.

They described their new site in a story titled, “The Wall Street Journal Launches Interactive Edition”:

The Wall Street Journal Monday introduces its Interactive Edition, an electronic newspaper that works through the burgeoning Internet to deliver high-quality, timely business news and information around the clock and around the globe.

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition provides continually updated news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a personalized news report, updated stock and mutual-fund prices and in-depth background information. The publication draws on the world-wide news-gathering resources of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Journal.

“Our goal is to bring Wall Street Journal news values, sensibilities and quality to what is a profoundly different medium,” said Paul Steiger, managing editor of The Journal. “The Interactive Edition truly expands The Journal’s ability to keep readers informed and involved.”

The following wsj.com screenshot is from June 26, 1996:

Image-WSJ Interactive-1996

The New York Times published an April 29, 1996 story called, “Wall Street Journal Bets Internet Readers Will Pay a Fee”:

The Wall Street Journal will begin publishing on the World Wide Web today, joining hundreds of newspapers that have already made the jump on line. But The Journal is nearly alone in betting that Internet users will pay an annual subscription fee for access.

….Earlier this month, Time Warner’s Pathfinder Web service said it would soon begin to charge fees for public access to its information. The San Jose Mercury News, which is owned by Knight-Ridder Inc., charges $4.95 a month for access to its Mercury Center Web site, or $1 a month for its newspaper subscribers.

“If a newspaper doesn’t have an on-line presence today, they’d be foolish,” said John F. Kelsey 3d, an electronic media consultant and chief executive of the Kelsey Group, in Princeton, N.J. While the prospect of cannibalizing their print publications may have deterred some companies, most have come to realize that electronic publishing is inevitable, like it or not, he said.

“The question they all ask is, ‘Are we going to take market share away from our own product?’ ” Mr. Kelsey said. “The answer is, ‘Somebody is going to, so it might as well be us.’ ”

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