Wall Street's bad news king to go

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The Independent Online
WALL STREET is about to lose its best source of bad news.

Alan Abelson, for 27 years the author of America's best-read business column, 'Up & Down Wall Street', confirmed yesterday that he has been asked to step down as editor of Barron's, the weekly tabloid owned by Dow Jones & Co, publishers of the Wall Street Journal.

Dow Jones spokesmen say Mr Abelson, 62, is leaving the post as part of a redesign of the weekly, and will stay on writing his column - the main reason investors buy the unusual newspaper, according to readership surveys. But the typically blunt Mr Abelson, asked by members of staff on Monday what new ideas Dow Jones had for the paper, reportedly said: 'They don't have any.'

Mr Abelson has tentatively agreed to continue writing 'Up & Down Wall Street,' provided he can designate his managing editor, James Meagher, as the new editor, but colleagues say it is unlikely he will remain with the publication beyond the end of the next year.

Barron's is distributed on Saturdays - when the Journal does not publish - and there has been speculation that Dow Jones wants to make it more of a week-end edition of their flagship paper, instead of the iconoclastic tipsheet it has become under Mr Abelson. He is believed to have objected to part of this plan, and Dow Jones is said to prefer more of a 'team player' at the helm of Barron's.

Mr Abelson has ruined hundreds of entrepreneurs who have tried over the years to mislead investors. He relies heavily on tips from Wall Street's 'short sellers', investors who bet that a given share price will tumble, and Barron's has often been criticised for being unfairly negative about new issues. The complaints have even caused the SEC to investigate Mr Abelson for alleged collusion with those who stood to profit from a company's misfortune, but in each case he has been completely exonerated.

Many colleagues are unsure whether Barron's - still profitable - would survive if Mr Abelson left entirely.