Copyright 2009, Traffic World, Inc.
Five thousand, three hundred fourteen issues. One hundred one years, 10 months and nine days.
No matter how you look at it, Traffic World has had a long, eventful and productive life as the leading weekly transportation and logistics news magazine in the United States.
Starting next week, Traffic World, founded in 1907, will be merged with The Journal of Commerce, founded in 1827. Although the Traffic World name will be retired, The Journal of Commerce will continue the mission defined by its founders - to doggedly cover "freight matters" and provide "the best service that human ingenuity and brains can accomplish."
In its new incarnation, The Journal of Commerce will expand to include Traffic World''s signature coverage of the rail and intermodal and trucking industries, as well as logistics, technology, and air and expedited cargo. The Journal of Commerce, of course, will continue to cover international maritime news and global trade - as it has for 182 years. It will be the broadest, most inclusive version of The Journal of Commerce since its days as a daily newspaper, providing forward-looking news and analysis to readers using a full array of print and online tools.
Traffic World and The Journal of Commerce have been linked since 1990, when Knight-Ridder acquired Traffic World and added it to The Journal of Commerce Group. Both publications were industry "bibles" - must-reading for executives whose businesses depended on the latest information on rail or truck freight rates or shipping line rates and changes at ports and terminals.
The publications had more than coverage in common - both shared an ability to identify new trends and quickly adapt to them. The Journal of Commerce caught the great wave of maritime commerce in the 19th Century - the age of the clipper ship - and rode it far into the future. In similar fashion, Traffic World was propelled by the growth of federal regulation and outrage against railroad market power abuses in the early 20th century.
Traffic World got its start thanks to the Hepburn Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act of 1906. Sponsored by Rep. William Hepburn, R-Iowa, and backed by President Theodore Roosevelt, the amendment gave the Interstate Commerce Commission broad new powers, including the authority to set maximum rates and replace existing rates with "just and reasonable" charges.
The new law made ICC decisions binding on the railroads. Its orders could only be challenged in federal court. The commission was given the power to enforce a uniform system of accounting and require railroads to submit standardized financial reports.
On top of that, the Hepburn Amendment extended the commission''s authority to bridges, terminals, express companies (such as Wells Fargo & Co. and American Express, which still handled packages and freight in 1906), ferries and pipelines.
The ICC responded by adding staff to handle its new responsibilities. By 1909 it had 527 employees, up from 178 in 1905. The volume of tariffs and ICC decisions soared.
That spelled opportunity for the reporters who founded The Traffic Information Bureau of Chicago and Washington and in 1907 published what was then called The Traffic Bulletin.
"It is our purpose to give that publicity to freight matters and other subjects pertaining to the conduct of the railroads which was contemplated by the framers of the Hepburn Amendment of the Interstate Commerce Act," they said in the introduction to the first edition of The Traffic Bulletin, published April 13, 1907.
Little is known about Traffic World''s founders. The early Traffic World was almost completely anonymous - without even an editorial byline until 1909, when William B. Barr put his name to an article. Barr was identified as vice president, and later editor-in-chief, and often signed articles "W.B.B."
There was nothing anonymous about The Journal of Commerce. It was founded by one of the best-known inventors of the 19th Century, Samuel F.B. Morse.
In 1827, the man who would later invent the telegraph and the Morse code was an accomplished portrait artist. However, Morse also was underemployed, in debt and a widower with children.
He launched The Journal of Commerce with the backing of Arthur and Lewis Tappan, brothers and silk importers in New York.
In 1827, almost everything that was shipped into or among the 24 U.S. states was waterborne, moving from port to port on sailing vessels that plied the ocean and up the many rivers that linked the states together. The Erie Canal linking the Hudson River to Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes was just two years old.
Morse wasn''t inspired by burgeoning maritime, but by the too-short tutu of Madame Francisque Hutin, the French ballerina who performed La Berg