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Wall Street Journal Europe Doles Out Cash And Favors To Inflate Circulation Numbers

from the ouch dept

I can't find it now, but just a few months ago I got into a discussion in our comments with someone who insisted that newspapers or paywalls were always going to be a better place for advertisers because they actually knew who their readers were and could verify and audit that information. I noted that the newspaper industry has a long history of boosting circulation numbers through fraud. In response, I was told that doesn't happen any more. That seemed laughable. Indeed, reports have now come out that the Wall Street Journal Europe was involved in a complicated scam to massively boost its circulation numbers by giving companies cash to buy copies of the paper at greatly discounted rates. Even worse, it appears that some of the deals involved signed contracts with the WSJ, where they promised positive coverage of one of the organizations that would participate in this scheme:
The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channeling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal's true circulation.

The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper's management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality.
Coming on the heels of the voicemail hacking scandal, this is another black eye for Murdoch's News Corp, but it looks significantly worse, given the generally positive reputation around the Wall Street Journal, when it comes to reporting and editorial ethics.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Oct 14th, 2011 @ 2:16pm

    reporting and editorial ethics

    re-por-ting? eth... ethi... ethics? I do not recognize those terms. Are they new?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    A Dan (profile), Oct 14th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Typo

    "Murdoch's New Corp" - unless this is some kind of a pun.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    They certainly do this to universities, and not just in Europe. Mine got a "free" WSJ subscription through a complicated arrangement with a donor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    blaktron (profile), Oct 14th, 2011 @ 3:40pm

    "a move which led some staff to accuse the paper's management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality."

    ...

    ...

    Who wrote this? Can I presume they never actually read the WSJ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 14th, 2011 @ 4:02pm

    Can't trust anyone in advertising -- especially not Google.

    Self-interest trumps all. No way to independently audit, therefore inflated numbers are a certainty. -- And uncovering one bunch of liars doesn't make anyone else credible, just confirms the whole field as crooked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 14th, 2011 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Can't trust anyone in advertising -- especially not Google.

    And since those crooked folks are human, that means all humans are crooked liars and everything they say is wrong, which mea s you're co. Net was wrong too and google and the WSJ are trustworthy as Vishnu....

    See now silly generalizations are yet?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2011 @ 8:30pm

    Reputation

    The Wall Street Journal has a reputation? Their reputation for lying and concealment of the truth about financial scams, is that the reputation you mean?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 15th, 2011 @ 12:45am

    The Guardian interested in investigative reporting while a Murdoch rag is caught lying and cheating to make money?

    Sky is blue, water is wet, etc...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    hmm (profile), Oct 16th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Typo

    When murdoch finally kicks the bucket will the headline be "News Corpse International" hehe

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Thomas, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    That has to be a clear line of non-ethical behavior. Let's face some of the facts though, circulation numbers are down and some people are questioning the survival of print newspaper as we know it. The internet is making it much more feasible to find information in real time leaving print newspapers somewhat obselete, youth group activities

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Shine (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 8:04am

    I think anything printed will really have harder times getting their audience these days because of the internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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