All About the JofA
The first JofA was published on the eve of momentous events in U.S. history. A year after the JofA ’s birth, the great earthquake and fire destroyed San Francisco. Two years later, the last of the federal lands—in Oklahoma—opened for settlement. Amid all these events, the JofA remained a steady source of technical knowledge.
An early JofA editor was the father of a distinguished scientist whose work and writing were admired worldwide. Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist, was the daughter of Dr. Edward Sherwood Meade (later Mead), one of the two editors of the first issue of the Journal , and director of the Evening School of Accounts and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He resigned from the JofA after a year, leaving the editorship to Dean Joseph French Johnson.
Technical literature in 1905 had only one outlet—the JofA . In its early years, the JofA constituted nearly the entire body of technical literature for accountants. Readers relied on articles by preeminent accountants, such as Robert H. Montgomery and Arthur Lowes Dickenson, for their professional insights.
Today, the Official Releases section continues to enhance the Journal’ s stature in the profession, helping readers keep up-to-date with the latest authoritative literature. It also has helped the JofA solidify its status as one of the world’s foremost accounting publications.
The JofA ’s circulation is 184 times greater than it was in the early 20th century. In 1909, circulation had reached nearly 2,000. A recent circulation tally found just over 368,000 readers.
The JofA ’s ad revenue puts it in the ranks of top magazines. It is the market share and advertising revenue leader in the accounting channel and is listed in Advertising Age ’s Top 300.
The JofA ’s Lawler Award is named after a past Journal editor. The award is presented to the author of the best article every year as determined by the magazine’s editorial advisers. John Lawler, the JofA’ s chief editor for a year, retired in 1976 after serving the Institute for 26 years in various management positions, including secretary of the board of directors.
In one early issue, a CPA wrote a peace plan three years before the League of Nations was proposed. In the February 1915 issue, soon after hostilities broke out in Europe, the JofA published “A Plan for International Peace” by Elijah Watt Sells. The article was the first reference to the war in the JofA .
The JofA has a tradition of helping CPAs become authors. Throughout its 100 years, the JofA has relied on members to relate their experiences and advice to readers; in the first issue the editors called on its readers to help improve the magazine. The magazine continues to be a collaboration between accounting and journalism professionals.
A Profession in Progress
An Institute committee feared the world would forsake reading with the introduction of modern innovations. A change in “reading of magazines was brought about by cars, radios and movies,” according to a 1931 report by the AICPA committee on publications. It was doubtful, the report continued, that things could ever return to life as it had been 20 or 30 years before.
Carman G. Blough set early professional standards virtually by himself. Blough, the first chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, also was the Institute’s first full-time director of research. In the latter position, he was the primary authority on accounting principles and auditing procedures and wrote a monthly column in the JofA that established all technical issues and answered queries on accounting and auditing.
It took nearly 40 years for the concept of earnings per share to go from idea to an APB Opinion. In 1930, the JofA published an article mentioning EPS. For nearly 40 years thereafter, CPAs had no official literature on how to account for it—until the AICPA Accounting Principles Board issued Opinion no. 15 in 1969 to settle the matter.
CPA John C. (Sandy) Burton played Superman for New York City. Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and a former SEC chief accountant, Burton in 1976 was appointed New York City’s deputy mayor for finance during a period of fiscal crisis. He is credited as being one of the major figures in helping the city salvage its financial status.
The profession was clearly accepted into popular culture when, for the first time during the 1970s, an answer in a New York Times crossword puzzle was “CPA.”
The AICPA board of directors has been photographed by a celebrated photographer. The May 1987 JofA featured a remarkable photograph of the 1986–87 AICPA board—everyone is smiling. Every photographer knows the difficulty of capturing such a moment. That shot, however, was in the hands of master photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. His work is shown in top New York City galleries, and his subjects range from 1950s Abstract Expressionists to more contemporary artists, as well as pop stars and other celebrities. And his portfolio includes a bit of accounting history.
The 1987 AICPA centennial drew TV gurus. “The McLaughlin Group,” nationally known participants in a weekly TV program of economic and political analysis, and Time magazine columnist Hugh Sidey provided their opinions and forecasts at the AICPA’s 99th annual meeting.
The AICPA centennial in 1987 was a boon for collectors. Commemoratives with the centennial logo for sale included Tiffany plates and clocks, silk neckties, walnut bookends, five-piece wine sets, Cross pen sets, brass key tags, cloisonn lapel/tie pins, silk scarves, pewter tankards, Lucite paperweights and wall posters testifying to the commitment, integrity and objectivity of the accountant.
Who was the most amusing accountant in the country? At the Comic Strip Live in New York, where stand-up comedy reigns, 13 finalists went head-to-head in 1988 to gain the distinctive title of Funniest Accountant in America. Winner Gary Press, 26, of the small Manhattan firm Siegel, Sacks & Co., had a one-liner that brought down the house: “An accountant trying to be a comedian makes as much sense as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing at Woodstock.”
A prediction in the first JofA has come true. A crystal ball in volume 1, issue 1, said accountants would provide services in “all countries where the profession is practiced.” A century later, the profession has fulfilled this forecast by being involved in international accounting and auditing standards, the global economy and worldwide connections through the Internet.
Barbara J. Shildneck, a former editor of the JofA , is now a contributing editor.