‘Hoy’ to Readers: We’ll Get to Bottom of Scandal

By: Mark Fitzgerald

In an open letter to readers published Friday, Hoy’s interim publisher, Digby Solomon D?ez, promised that the circulation fraud scandal at the Tribune Co. Spanish-language daily “will never happen again under any circumstances.”

Hoy also took the rare step of reprinting a Spanish translation of the Thursday Newsday story that reported on Hoy’s obsession with topping the circulation of the rival New York City paper El Diario La Prensa. The story said founding Publisher Louis Sito, who resigned earlier this week, and other executives encouraged circulation managers to inflate Hoy’s sales numbers almost from the moment of its creation in 1998.

The article began on page 2 and jumped to another two full pages.

“Many of you might consider the article we are publishing today an ‘internal matter,’ that is not necessarily of interest, unless you are someone who advertises in our papers. And, therefore, you may find it boring,” Solomon wrote in the letter to reader, published in the space usually reserved for the editorial.

“However,” he continued, “we’re publishing this to make clear to all of you, both our readers as well as our advertisers and employees, that Hoy is committed to acting ethically, to practicing a journalism that isn’t influenced by business considerations and to treating both our readers and our advertisers fairly.”

The investigative story, which was teased on the front page, and Solomon’s commentary contrasted with Hoy’s initial low-key coverage of the scandal. On June 13, the day after the Audit Bureau of Circulations took the unusual step of censuring Hoy, Newsday and, separately, the Chicago Sun-Times for “circulation fraud,” Hoy reported the development in a story that referred to “circulation errors” and concentrated on just one aspect of the bureau’s punishment, the requirement that the papers be audited twice a year.

In his open letter Friday, Solomon wrote that the ongoing internal investigation was continuing to “determine the magnitude of the problem,” and that the papers would hold responsible anyone who does not uphold its ethical standards.

The editorial team, he added, had been “negatively affected” by the circulation scandal. “All of us promise to rise above this situation and continue offering the best quality product day after day,” Solomon’s letter concluded.

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