Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, the Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism

By Richard J. Tofel

One of the forgotten titans in American journalism, Barney Kilgore was the subject of a  book written by  Richard J 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. 

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