- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The circulation chief for the Chicago Sun-Times resigned Monday and his predecessor was put on administrative leave, two weeks after the paper’s parent company announced it had inflated circulation numbers for several years.

Newsday has also placed its circulation chief on administrative leave after an internal audit by its parent company, Tribune Co., determined the Long Island, N.Y., daily newspaper had misstated its circulation figures, too.

“The incidents are not related at all,” said Martha Dittmar, a spokeswoman for the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which audits circulation data for newspapers and magazines.

Stephen Hastings resigned Monday as the Sun-Times’ vice president for circulation.

Mark Hornung, who held the same post from 1995 through 2001, was placed on administrative leave from his current position as president and publisher of the (Tinley Park, Ill.) Daily Southtown, a Sun-Times sister paper.

Hollinger International Inc., which owns the Sun-Times, said Mr. Hornung was placed on leave as a consequence of an internal investigation into the circulation error, the paper reported in yesterday’s editions.

“But, as we haven’t completed the investigation, it’s interim. There’s been no finding yet,” said John Cruickshank, publisher of the Sun-Times.

Ms. Dittmar declined to comment on the matter until the investigation is completed.

The Tribune Co. said Newsday and sister publication Hoy — a Spanish-language newspaper in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — had misstated their circulation figures for much of last year.

The company is now reviewing the circulation practices of all its papers, and Newsday officials told the Associated Press its vice president of circulation had been placed on administrative leave.

“In this era of falling circulation, it’s put a lot of pressure on circulation departments to perform. Apparently, it has pushed some people over the line,” said newspaper analyst John Morton.

He said the incidents do not reflect poorly on the Audit Bureau of Circulations, formed 90 years ago to create reliable circulation data.

“Instances of known circulation fraud have been very rare,” he said.

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