Wall Street Journal Denies Guardian's Circulation Scam Story

Newspaper maintains that editorial integrity was what sunk the WSJ Europe Publisher

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Update: The Wall Street Journal published an article today, following yesterday's Guardian claims of a circulation scam.  The WSJ article refrences "alleged deal to boost the reported circulation numbers of The Wall Street Journal Europe, in which the paper sold bulk copies to a consulting firm and simultaneously directed money to the firm for separate services."  The WSJ's Paul Sonne and Bruce Orwall note, in regards to a complex and bizarre billing program referenced by the Guardian,  "Mr. Van Heck said the billing arrangement was unusual. ELP was asked to 'send invoices to different organizations and not to The Wall Street Journal Europe,' which he found surprising."

After Wednesday's report from The Guardian alleging that Wall Street Journal Europe publisher Andrew Langhoff resigned over a circulation scam, Dow Jones, the division of News Corp. that publishes the business paper, is saying that the British outlet has pegged the wrong scandal. Poynter obtained a statement from Ashley Huston, vice president of corporate communications at Dow Jones, who writes, "The Guardian’s inflammatory characterization of WSJE’s former ELP [Executive Learning Partnership] circulation program is replete with untruths and malign interpretations. Andrew Langhoff resigned because of a perceived breach of editorial integrity, not because of circulation programs, whose copies were certified by the ABC UK." Hutson is repeating the same reason for Langhoff's departure that was previously reported in The Wall Street Journal, and while it centers on the reason for Langhoff's resignation, her statement doesn't get to the bottom of the circulation-padding scheme of, in effect, giving money to third parties to buy copies of the paper which The Guardian alleged. However, Hutson does try to discredit the employee who complained about the circulation plans. "The Guardian mischaracterizes a former employee as a 'whistleblower.' In fact, that employee was first investigated by the company because of concerns around his business dealings," she wrote. Poynter's Steve Myers posed a series of followup questions to Hutson, asking for more details about , the whistleblower, and "Why did the company route money through third parties?" Myers is still awaiting a response.

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