From Publishers Weekly
One of the forgotten titans in American journalism, Barney Kilgore is the subject of a new book by Tofel, a former assistant publisher of the Wall Street Journal
and author of Sounding the Trumpet
. A Midwesterner from Indiana, Kilgore emerged from smalltown America to rise through the ranks at the Wall Street Journal
on the eve of the Great Depression. Through the war years of the 1940s into the Cold War era, he reshaped the publication's news focus, visuals, composition, circulation and advertising. He championed a unique style of journalism as its top executive, with keen instincts, intelligence and a progressive view, transforming the broadsheet into a first-class national business newspaper. Innovative and unyielding, Kilgore had one of his finest moments when he faced down General Motors in a controversial 1954 advertising spat, bolstering the newspaper's reputation. Tofel's excellent work on this pivotal figure in journalism is a significant addition to the seminal books on American media. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* From modest midwestern roots, fresh out of college in 1929, Kilgore went to work for the tiny, fledgling New York financial paper the Wall Street Journal. Plainspoken and analytical, Kilgore loved his job, writing his parents frequently with news of the financial world. Tofel draws on that correspondence and Kilgore’s work at the Journal to offer an engaging look at the long career of the man who helped shape the newspaper as it grew in stature and circulation. On the eve of the Great Depression, Kilgore pioneered a more reader-friendly financial journalism, educating the reader and himself as he developed a distinctive voice and created the “What’s News” feature, among others. During Roosevelt’s first two terms, Kilgore gained a reputation as the leading financial journalist in the nation, switching attention from Wall Street to Washington, D.C., where government policy on the economic recovery held sway. Tofel traces Kilgore’s career—columnist, Washington bureau chief, general manager—through World War II, the 1954 showdown that fortified the separation of editorial and advertising, and the creation of the highly innovative National Observer, which failed after Kilgore’s death at age 56 in 1965. The current financial crisis adds to the timeliness of this fascinating look at a pioneer in journalism. --Vanessa Bush