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Burgess Returns to Detroit News

Outspoken autowriter resumes critic role after paper’s apology.

by on Mar.24, 2011

Detroit News auto critic Scott Burgess during an appearance on Auto Line Live.

Scott Burgess, the often-outspoken auto writer who quit after his critical review of the Chrysler 200 was censored by the Detroit News, has returned to the paper following its decision to apologize to readers and the reporter.

A former correspondent for the U.S. military’s Stars and Stripes, Burgess resigned, a week ago, when the Detroit News told him to soften a Chrysler review that had appeared in print before it was copied onto the paper’s website.  Initially, Burgess agreed but then decided to resign due to what he felt were the unacceptable reasons behind the editorial changes.

In a weekend mea culpa, News Editor and Publisher Jonathan Wolman agreed that it was inappropriate for editorial policies to be dictated by an angry advertiser.  He offered an apology to both readers and Burgess.  (For more, Click Here.)

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It is still not clear which advertiser initially pressured the paper for changes, though sources say it was not Chrysler.  Indications are that it was a Chrysler dealer worried about the impact of Burgess’ critique on already soft demand for the new Chrysler compact.

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Detroit News Now Fully Apologizes for Changing Chrysler Review

Publisher promises advertisers won’t dictate reviews.

by on Mar.19, 2011

Detroit News auto reviewer Scott Burgess in better days, behind the wheel.

After initially agreeing it erred, but failing to fall on its sword, the Detroit News has issued a full apology to both its readers and the writer whose review was altered to satisfy an angry advertiser.

Presenting a reviewer’s “unvarnished opinion,” is essential, declared Publisher Jonathan Wolman, who added that advertisers should not be allowed to influence the news process.

The flap has given another black eye to a newspaper that has itself been hammered by critics, and which has seen its readership fall by roughly two-thirds over the past decade.

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The widely-discussed incident was touched off when veteran auto critic Scott Burgess published a scathing review of the new Chrysler 200, earlier this month.  That generated a strident response from an as yet-unnamed advertiser (though sources stress that it was not the automaker itself).

In turn, when the paper readied the review for its online version Burgess was asked to soften some of his harsher comments.

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Detroit News Apologizes – Sort Of – For Softening Chrysler 200 Review

Newspaper admits edit of harsh review “handled poorly.”

by on Mar.18, 2011

Former Detroit News auto critic Scott Burgess during an appearance on Autoline After Hours.

The Detroit News has issued a corporate “mea culpa,” if not an outright apology, for editing out some of the harsh criticisms included in a review of the Chrysler 200 – a move that led the paper’s automotive critic to resign.

Part of the problem for the paper was that the changes were obvious: the original review, including Scott Burgess’s tough criticism, was published in the print edition – then deleted when the review went online.

Indications are that the paper responded to pressure from an advertiser, though more likely a dealer, as Chrysler appears not to have pushed the publication to soften the electronic version of the review.

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“The paper’s intent was to make an editing improvement, but we obviously handled it poorly,” Wolman said. “We should have let the online version of his review stand as written, as we did the print version,” said Detroit News Editor and Publisher Jonathan Wolman, who added that the original language has since been restored to the online review.

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