FT vs WSJ: Which is Better?

My Wall Street Journal subscription expired in July, but they are still sending me the paper. Maybe they wish I would renew, but I already started a subscription to Financial Times. Having both papers at the same time gives me an opportunity to put them side by side for a comparison.

Both Financial Times (FT) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cover business news. I like FT better. Let me explain why using last Friday’s papers as an example.

Fewer pages. Friday’s FT had 22 pages in two sections; WSJ had 46 pages in four sections. FT had one full ad page and two pages of market data; WSJ had six full ad pages and four pages of market data and legal notice. FT is more concentrated, with less fluff. 22 pages are plenty to go through already.

Tighter business focus. FT is tightly centered around business news, whereas WSJ also goes more into general news. Compare the front page headlines in last Friday’s papers:

FT:

  • Surpirse slowdown in credit card losses
  • SEC pledges more high-profile actions
  • Banks sell switch to renminbi payments for trade with China

WSJ:

  • Tech Titans in Bidding War [HP and Dell bid for 3Par]
  • Iraqis Face Uncertain Future As U.S. Ends Combat Mission
  • Canada Thwarts Bombing Attempt

For a business newspaper, FT’s headlines are more on topic.

More international coverage. FT’s headquarters is in London. The paper it distributes here is the US edition. It has more coverage for international business news. Compare the front page headlines in the corporate news section in last Friday’s papers:

FT (Companies & Markets section):

  • HP fires fresh 3Par bid salvo
  • BHP faces potash cartel backlash
  • Glencore plans to list gold unit in move that could value it at $5bn [Glencore is a commodities company in Switzerland]

WSJ (Marketplace section):

  • J&J’s Latest Recall: Hip-Repair Implants
  • American Will Fight Record FAA Fine
  • NestlĂ© Plans Ground Attack Over Coffee Beans
  • Buyers Circle Net Security Company [ArcSight Inc in California]

WSJ feels like a home paper for Americans. FT has a lot more international coverage. It bills itself as a "World Business Newspaper."

No sob stories. FT is straight economic and corporate news. WSJ often includes stories with a personal connection, like the story about the parents still having to pay a deceased child’s student loan (because the parents are co-signers), or this story about consumers’ outrage against credit card companies for cutting their credit lines. I’m so glad Frank at Bad Money Advice came back from his short hiatus so I don’t have to raise my hand every time. I have a weak point for sob stories.

No page jumps. I hate reading half of a story and then told to go to page A14. WSJ does that a lot; FT doesn’t do it at all. FT does point to a related article at the end some articles, but the related article is a completely stand-alone article, not a continuation of another article. All articles on FT finish on the same page where they started unless a long article can’t fit the whole page.

Less expensive. The best deal to get either FT or WSJ is by using airline miles. For FT, it’s 2,000 miles for 305 issues (one year). At a value of 2 cents per mile, it’s only $40/year. You can use American, Delta, or United miles. WSJ subscription is 2,100 United miles for 254 issues or 2,100 American miles for 190 issues. You get a longer subscription with FT for about the same number of miles.

After working all day staring at a computer, I prefer reading a physical newspaper. Higher quality at lower cost — that’s why I like FT better than WSJ.

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Comments

  1. Money Obedience says

    Two other great thing about the FT: Martin Wolf on Wednesdays and “Lunch with the FT” in the weekend section.

  2. Random Poster says

    I got the FT through miles to try it out. I’m glad that I used miles instead of money, as I don’t think that I’d buy it (and certainly not at list price).

    FT seems like a paper that augments other papers, and expects you to read other papers first before reading FT’s coverage. I don’t like that. Also, particularly with regard to US events, I’ve noticed that several times that the published story was clearly written and published without regard to the actual events (i.e., written well before the polls closed, even though there was plenty of lead time to get the “right” story in). I don’t like that either. It also seems, to me, that a great deal of the “interesting” stories on FT are on their website, and not in their actual paper. I really don’t like that.

    FT weekend is enjoyable, but the “How to Spend It” magazine is sporadic at best. Maybe I just like the human interest stories over the pure business ones. Particularly over the really boring and repetitive business stories.

  3. Nish The Dish says

    Good post.

    You also didn’t mention that the rabid editorial pages on WSJ do a disservice to the political atmosphere in America.

    That is why I switched to FT.

  4. Chad says

    It should also be noted that serious WSJ journalists are jumping ship as Murdoch “Foxifies” (out rageous headlines that aren’t technically false, less detail in the stories, etc.) the Journal. A recent batch just went to the Times.

  5. D says

    I just wanted to let you know that I was informed by WSJ when i was in the same situation as you that your subscription does not automatically cancel. When I called to make sure that they canceled, they told me that unless I had called I would have received a bill in the mail for all the issues I received.

    They told me that it is a service to subscribers who forget to renew. They do not want us to miss such as valuable service.

    While I understand this is nonsense and they probably do not have legal ground on forcing you to pay, do you really want to take the chance of sending you to collections?

  6. Harry Sit says

    @D – Thank you for the note. I called WSJ and told them to stop. The rep didn’t mention any bill for the papers they delivered after the subscription end date. I don’t think they have any legs to stand on because I never agreed to pay anything beyond my original subscription (paid by airline miles).

  7. Ugly American says

    The way print media works is they buy stories from one of the news wire services like Bloomberg, Reuters or AP and then they spin that news into a form that sells advertising to their target demographic.

    Since you can get direct access to the news wire services yourself, you can save time and aggravation by just reading facts and skipping the marketing nonsense and advertising.

  8. hetaele says

    Have any of you guys read wall street journal EUROPE, it covers a more international view than US edition as ft does, although it does not cover latin america countries like Brazil at all!

  9. anie says

    okay, I just asked you about this in an email. sorry. I think I’ll just do bloomberg online and call it good!

  10. mark says

    FT is really great! Its the best newspaper. They have a very great app and all their articles are adorable… Their customer service team is very responsive, and they reply in email very fast!

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