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Scott Burgess’ story of journalistic integrity has come to a satisfying conclusion with The Detroit News auto critic returning to his position at the paper after a tumultuous week.
Burgess resigned his position a week ago when the paper bowed to threats by an advertiser and subsequently edited some of the writers work in its online edition. While it didn’t change the overall theme of the piece, the edited review of his Chrysler 200 Convertible review was significantly less impactful.
In a memo sent to his colleagues at the paper, Burgess writes that, “the reason for me to come back has everything to do with all of you. The Detroit News is filled with world caliber reporters in every department. And the strength of your character and commitment to journalism has shined — in all of the notes I received, the phone calls and overwhelming support not simply by saying nice things to me, but speaking your mind, worries and concerns. The Detroit News is not a building or even a newspaper, it’s a group of people I am proud to call my colleagues and friends.”
Score one for integrity.
In a move to combat criticism and attempt to win back credibility, The Detroit News publisher Jonathan Wolman has issued an explanatory apology over issues of censorship that lead to the resignation of the paper’s auto critic.
Last week Scott Burgess left the paper after an online version of his review of the Chrysler 200 was edited to remove some of the more sensationalistic copy. The paper even admitted that the move was in response to a complaint by a local dealer that advertises with The Detroit News.
Citing credibility as the most important aspect of delivering the news, Wolman comments that, “As publisher and editor, I want to apologize to our readers and of course to Scott. Once the review was published we should have maintained the wording in all our formats and avoided any sense that we were acting at the influence of any interest aside from our readers’ interest.”
He goes on to state that, “our readers must be certain they have the author’s unvarnished opinion, free of any commercial or outside consideration. That’s our ongoing commitment.”
For our part, we applaud Wolman for coming clean – even if he’s only now doing no less that we would ever expect.
Censorship has been confirmed as the reason behind why Scott Burgess, Auto Critic for The Detroit News resigned from his position at the paper.
News of the paper’s handling of Burgess’ Chrysler 200 review and his subsequent letter of resignation broke yesterday, but the industry veteran would not confirm the specific reason for his decision to leave what he referred to in his own words as “the best job I ever held.” Burgess set the record straight last night, however, appearing on the Autoline After Hours webcast, commenting that, “I quit because of the motivation behind the editing.”
The ‘editing’ essentially amounted to a censorship of ideas, with the paper cutting several sentences from the online version of the story after a complaint from an advertiser. While the general theme of the piece was kept intact, the harshest critiques were left out, including a conclusion that, “The only thing this 200 proves is that good enough is never going to be good enough.”
Since Burgess resigned, the paper has admitted mishandling the situation and has since updated the online version of the story to the original.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Scott Burgess, Auto Critic for ‘The Detroit News’ has resigned from his position at the paper, reportedly due to a decision by editors to censor his latest review. The article in question is a piece on the new Chrysler 200, in which changes to the online version of the story significantly reduce the impact of the piece.
Those changes were made after a dealer complained about the review, admits Sue Carney, Business Editor for the outlet, commenting that, “The changes were made to address the journalism of the piece, not the angst of a car dealer.”
The print edition could obviously not be changed after the fact, but Carney admits, “the online environment offered the flexibility to rework language that should have been caught in the editing process.”
Language removed from the online version includes statements such as, “Regrettably, the 200 is still a dog.” Another gem is that, “If this is the best vehicle Detroit exports, then Glenn Beck is right.” And finally, the censored conclusion: “It’s vastly improved, but that’s only because it was so horrendous before. Hopefully, this car is a placeholder until the real redesigned 200 arrives – eventually. The only thing this 200 proves is that good enough is never going to be good enough.”
Burgess, for his part, will not give the reason for his resignation, but did tell Jalopnik that, “It’s the best job I ever held.”