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  • Financial Information Reporting in the Earliest Wall Street

    Micky Lee

    Chapter from the book: Lee, M. 2019. Bubbles and Machines: Gender, Information and Financial Crises.


    Chapter 4 re-conceives financial news reporting as an actor-network looking at the inception of Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Communication literature has pointed out that the financial press failed to perform the Fourth Estate role and warn the public during the Global Financial Crisis; it being assumed that journalists understand their roles and responsibilities in a presumed stable organisation. The author shows that the earliest Dow Jones news reporting was an assemblage of communication and reproduction technologies that are anchored in a locale, such as the ticker and the printer. Here analogue technology that produced and distributed financial information in turn took up the attributes of the network. For example, a hand-operated printer could only hold 16 lines of type and impress on 5" x 9" paper; limited space allowed one sentence for each news item—like tweets in the digital age! Also, runners have been seen as a neutral medium simply delivering messages around Wall Street. Yet runners were knowledge bearers of financial news. These examples show that the assemblage of machines and humans created a market contingent upon the materiality of a sociotechnical assemblage. The earliest Wall Street Journal should not be seen as a stable organisation, but rather, a nexus through which information was transformed from one form to another.

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    Lee, M. 2019. Financial Information Reporting in the Earliest Wall Street. In: Lee, M, Bubbles and Machines. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book34.d

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    Published on May 23, 2019