Wall Street Journal’s Europe publisher and EMEA managing director Andrew Langhoff is leaving the post after helping build out the title’s continental ambitions. In a memo to staff (included below), Langhoff said he was resigning over the perception that a business relationship with a company called Executive Learning Partnership had influenced editorial coverage.
Langhoff, who moved from being CEO of DJ’s Ottaway local publisher in 2008, is replaced in the interim by Dow Jones’ SVP and strategy head Kelly Leach, though a search has begun.
Though WSJ had begun to distribute more printed copies in London, online had been Langhoff’s focus and the publisher in 2009 overhauled its Chinese, Europe and Asia sites.
Now it is due to launch a German-language online-only edition, according to recent reports.
“This is the biggest project cost for Dow Jones (NSDQ: NWS) this year,” according to an unnamed WSJ senior editor quoted by TheLocal.de, which says: “Dow Jones will spend about €15 ($20.41/£13.05) million to kickstart the online venture. It will employ about 40 people, who are being recruited at the moment.”
FT Deutschland operates in Germany but is no longer owned by FT Group.
Update: The Dow Jones statement stresses that Langhoff opted to resign:
The circulation department of The Wall Street Journal Europe entered into a broad business agreement with a third party, Executive Learning Partnership, that could give the impression that news coverage can be influenced by commercial relationships. We no longer have a relationship with ELP. Because Dow Jones has zero tolerance for even the appearance of a breach of ethical standards, the publisher of the WSJE – who has ultimate responsibility for this matter – has opted to resign and the WSJE has posted and will print a reader clarification on two WSJE Special Report articles related to this matter.
The two Special Reports ran Oct. 14, 2010, and Mar. 14, 2011, according to the Journal. The paper cites unidentified sources who said a contract with ELP to sell bulk-circulation papers to students included language suggesting ELP could receive get coverage in the paper but that “a paragraph in the agreement” left final control with editorial.
Those sources say Langhoff pressed for an article in 2010 that eventually was approved by then-editor Patience Wheatcroft and again in 2011 for an article that went through. The issue came to light after a former circulation employee complained.
Langhoff’s memo skips over any direct role he might have played.
From: Dow Jones Internal Communications
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:19 PM
Subject: Staff Note: A Message from Andrew Langhoff
Dear EMEA colleagues:
I wanted to let you know myself that I have decided to resign and to explain briefly why.
I have great regard for The Wall Street Journal Europe and the people who work here. You represent the highest standards of excellence, journalism and ethics.
There is – and should be – an inviolable boundary between our commercial relationships and the content we produce. The perception that this boundary was crossed via a broad agreement between the WSJE Circulation department and a company called Executive Learning Partnership has been of great concern to me. That relationship, overseen by a now former employee, is no longer in place. Because the agreement could leave the impression that news coverage can be influenced by commercial relationships, as publisher with executive oversight, I believe that my resignation is now the most honorable course.
I am enormously proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past three years at the Journal Europe and at Dow Jones in EMEA. We have improved our products, increased our profitability and raised our profile in these important markets. We have put a strong team in place, and have important and significant initiatives in the works.
My intention had been to step away from my current role at the end of this fiscal year, and to return to the States. While my time with you will thus be somewhat foreshortened, I have every confidence that you will accomplish all that we had set out to do, and more.
It was a privilege to share your successes. I wish you all the best of luck in the future.