Dow Jones has denied allegations by the Guardian that The Wall Street Journal Europe paid a third party, through other companies, to buy its newspapers as part of a scheme to boost its circulation.
Here is the statement from Ashley S. Huston, vice president for corporate communications at Dow Jones & Co.:
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. 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.
WSJE circulation programs were fully disclosed and certified. The practice of sponsored distribution to business schools and universities is common in the industry and clearly identified in all WSJE publisher statements. ELP was paid for legitimate services rendered; however, the manner in which they were paid was admittedly complex but nevertheless legitimate.
As we’ve stated, while the copies associated with ELP were legitimate and appropriate, we were not comfortable with the appearance of the programs and no longer have relationships with any of the third parties directly involved in these agreements.
Update: The Wall Street Journal has published a story confirming much of the Guardian’s reporting.
I’ve posed several followup questions and am awaiting responses:
From your statement it appears that you are refuting three elements of Davies’ story:
- The reason for Andrew Langhoff’s resignation
- The characterization of this employee as a “whistleblower”
- The reason for the payments to ELP
Is there anything else in the story you believe is inaccurate?
Was there an agreement between WSJE and ELP to provide coverage in The Wall Street Journal Europe (WSJE) in exchange for its sponsorship of the Future Leadership Institute? Specifically, is this true: “Langhoff agreed that the Journal would publish ‘a minimum of three special reports’ that would be based on surveys of the European market which ELP would run with the Journal’s help.”
You say that “ELP was paid for legitimate services rendered; however, the manner in which they were paid was admittedly complex but nevertheless legitimate.” What services did ELP provide to WSJE? Why did the company route money through third parties?
What was Dow Jones’ response to the whistleblower’s allegations? Did the company take any action?
What was the whistleblower being investigated for, and what became of that investigation?
Was the whistleblower laid off?
Who at Dow Jones knew about the issues leading to Andrew Langhoff’s resignation and when did they know?