Fired WSJ boss tells how he warned bosses about circulation plan


By Noel Young, Correspondent

October 20, 2011 | 2 min read

News Corp received an internal warning about a Wall Street Journal Europe circulation plan almost a year before the newspaper's publisher resigned as outside inquiries over the plan gathered pace, according to a former employee.

Rupert Murdoch

Former circulation manager Gert Van Mol provided Bloomberg News with e-mails he sent to the company's management, said the American magazine AdAge in a lengthy report .

Mr. Van Mol, who was later fired, said in the correspondence that a Dow Jones business partner was being compensated at the same time the partner was buying thousands of copies of The Wall Street Journal Europe for one euro-cent each, boosting the WSJ European circulation. Andrew Langhoff, the newspaper's publisher who stepped down last week, had approved the payments, the circulation manager said in the e-mails.

"It was a nonethical practice," Mr. Van Mol said in an interview. "I didn't want to be part of it. " He said he informed Les Hinton the former News Corp chief in New York and Todd Larsen, president of the Dow Jones & Co.

Bethany Sherman, a Dow Jones spokeswoman, declined to comment on whether Mr. Hinton and Mr. Larsen had been alerted to the payments last year.

News Corp., based in New York, is already under fire over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. At the annual shareholders' meeting tomorrow CEO Rupert Murdoch will face investors calling for changes in governance and business practices. But moves to vote out 13 of 15 board members are thought unlikely to succeed.

On the WSJ Europe circulation question, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean of the Yale University School of Management, said "If senior management was aware and it wasn't a rogue operation, that's a huge problem."


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