The sports pages, mercifully, spare us from daily headlines such as, “Barry Bonds Has Not Topped Hank Aaron’s Home Run Record.” This is because sports writers generally have the good sense to hold off on the stories until someone has in fact broken a record.

The business pages, alas, have no such restraint. As long as the increasingly obsolete Dow Jones Industrial Average is hovering just below the meaningless record high of 11,722.98, we can depend on business writers for an endless supply of pointless stories announcing that the record has not been broken.

We saw more of the same today, beginning with the New York Daily News print headline, “Dow falls short of record.” Seems that yesterday, the Dow Jones average came within 2.22 points of hitting the January 14, 2000 record. In other words, the Dow did what it has done every single day since 2000: It traded below the record.

Whether or not that was news, the gleeful dispatches filed all morning and afternoon certainly were not. “Dow Briefly Tops Record Close,” read the headline at 1:20pm. That story was followed twenty minutes later with another story, by a second reporter, headlined, “Update — Dow Jones Briefly Surpasses Record.”

Meanwhile, over at Bloomberg News, the busy Scarlet Fu filed, by our count, seven separate stories today, all of them commenting on the implications of the about-to-be-shattered record. We’d suggest that Scarlet go on strike, but countless journalists at other news organizations put in similar efforts.

And, alas, all their work was for naught. Come closing bell, back at, we learned from the sixth story Dow story posted by the Web site today that the Dow ended “Just Shy of the Record.”

So, tomorrow we’ll have to do it all over again. Seems an awful lot of time to spend following a number that Forbes has called “a completely useless, misleading index of market performance.”

Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.