From 1827, the JOC adapts to change, survives

For a publication to survive, indeed thrive, for 190 years when so many others have fallen by the wayside is not smooth sailing. There were certainly times when the changing economics of publishing threatened it, but the Journal of Commerce adapted to every change — from the age of sail to the age of digital, by transforming how it gathers and delivers critical information to shippers and transportation providers. 

Like many of its readers, the JOC got into shipping news almost by accident, as an outgrowth of how the intensely competitive New York newspapers of the day gathered the news arriving from Europe via ships. The publication, founded in 1827 by Samuel F.B. Morse and first appearing on the Lower Manhattan waterfront, braved threats that included an 1864 shutdown by former president Abraham Lincoln and the end of the daily broadsheet in 1999. 

From breaking a then-pioneer new way of shipping via containers to breaking the story on the 1973 oil embargo, the Journal of Commerce has delivered the business-critical information shippers and transportation providers have come to depend on. 

The mode of delivery has changed, with readers now able to get daily news updates in real time on their smartphone, pricing on their laptop, and deep analysis via the magazine. The sense of community has remained, with readers able to learn from industry leaders and collaborate with each other via the TPM Conference and other events, webinars, webcasts, and white papers.

The storied history, related in a timeline of milestones, available in comprehensive form on, recounts how one of the nation’s oldest media concerns preserved its franchise to serve the shipping industry.