Media Moves

Detroit News auto writer resigns after review changed

March 17, 2011

Scott Burgess, a Detroit News auto critic, resigned from his job on Wednesday after editors bowed to pressure from an advertiser and watered down his review for the Chrysler 200, reports Jalopnik.

Ray Wert writes, “Two sources at The Detroit News tell us that after receiving a phone call from an advertiser, changes were made to the online version of Burgess’ review. We still don’t know which Chrysler dealer was the advertiser in question or Chrysler itself. What we do know is that although the changes don’t go so far as to turn a negative review into a positive one, it was certainly enough to water it down.

“We called Sue Carney, the business editor for The Detroit News, but have not received a call back yet. Burgess, for his part, is unwilling to talk about why he left the newspaper but our assumption is this was it. Other editors at the 138-year-old newspaper only agreed to speak with us off the record.”

Wert later updated his story with this response from Carney: “We made several changes to the online version of Scott’s review because we were uncomfortable with some of the language in the original. it should have been addressed during the editing process but wasn’t. While it was too late to edit the print version, we were able to make changes online. The changes did not fundamentally change the thrust of Scott’s piece.

“A car dealer raised a complaint and we took a look at the review, as we would do whenever a reader raises a flag. The changes were made to address the journalism of the piece, not the angst of a car dealer. We left the print version alone, but the the online environment offered the flexibility to rework language that should have been caught in the editing process.”

Read more here.

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