Wall Street Journal hit by circulation and advertorial scam claims from Guardian

The Guardian’s Nick Davies has been creating more trouble for News Corp – this time by revealing evidence of a complex circulation-boosting scam involving the Wall Street Journal.

He reports that 31,000 out of 75,000 European edition sales were effectively sponsored by companies who paid rock-bottom for the copies and then sent them out to students.

The arrangement sounds like an ingenious bulk-marketing scheme. But it gets more sinister with allegations that sponsoring companies were given favourable editorial, which was not labelled as advertorial, and the claim that News Corp effectively ended up buying the copies itself when one of the sponsors wanted to pull out.

The Wall Street Journal today reports: “Andrew Langhoff, managing director of Dow Jones & Co. in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and publisher of The Wall Street Journal Europe, stepped down after an internal probe showed two articles in the paper’s Special Reports section had been prompted by an agreement the circulation department struck with Executive Learning Partnership, or ELP, a Netherlands-based consulting firm.”

The WSJ reports that former Europe edition editor Patience Wheatcroft, who is now a member of the House of Lords, declined to comment about the matter.

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