The biggest and strangest newspaper in America

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Gabriel Sherman takes a look at Investor’s Business Daily — which he calls the biggest and strangest paper that no one has ever heard of — and its quirky business news coverage in a piece published Tuesday on The Big Money.

Investor's Business DailySherman writes, “From its inception, IBD was unabashedly pro-business and pro-growth. The paper was crammed with charts and tables that ranked companies using O’Neil’s CAN SLIM ratings. Articles were short and included analysts’ views on a company’s financial performance. There were no anonymous sources, leaked documents, or investigations to ferret out financial scandals. ‘I don’t think reporters at the Wall Street Journal get up every morning to see if they’ve been beaten on a story from IBD,’ said Chris Roush, director of the Carolina Business News Initiative and editor of the Talking Biz News blog.

“O’Neil believed papers like the Journal were overly negative and focused only on bad news and gotcha-type stories. ‘IBD was a very frustrating place for a traditional reporter. If you wanted to do muckraking or investigative reporting, they didn’t want that,’ a former reporter told me. Rather, IBD wanted its readers to make money and celebrate American capitalism.

“The 1990s ushered in the golden age of personal investing, day trading, and a national obsession with the stock market. IBD rode this boom. Circulation rose from 40,000 in 1986 to more than 200,000 by 1996, as everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to grandmas rushed into the heady bull market. But the bursting of the Nasdaq bubble, the attacks of 9/11, and the recent meltdown on Wall Street have battered the personal-investing movement and, with it, IBD’s circulation gains. Total circulation has plunged 35 percent in the last 10 years while the Journal has seen its circulation rise by 15 percent over the same period.”

Read more here.