It's not as embarrassing to the principals as a sex scandal though it should be more disastrous, and it's easier to understand than the financial crisis.
The European WSJ had been selling copies for almost nothing so that its circulation would look higher.
The sponsoring companies were not reading the papers they were paying for; they were never even seeing them; and they were buying at highly reduced rates. The students to whom they were distributed may or may not have read them; none of the students paid for the papers they were being offered. But the Audit Bureau of Circulation ruled that the scheme was legitimate and by 2010, it was responsible for 41% of the European edition's daily sales – 31,000 copies out of a total of 75,000.
I'm amazed at how low the circulation was, but maybe its just a reflection of what the web is doing to newspapers, or maybe the WSJ is of only modest interest in Europe.
Link thanks to autopope-- he's got more analysis, ranting, and schadenfreude at Antipope, which has a very lively commenting community.
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