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Detroit car critic quits over censored Chrysler 200 review

When a newspaper critic pans something, is there much of a difference between a scathing review and one that’s just really negative?

Published March 18, 2011
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<p>DETROIT – The auto critic at The Detroit News said Thursday he resigned after editors demanded he delete portions of <a href="http://detnews.com/article/20110310/OPINION03/103100332/2011-Chrysler-200-falls-short-of-the-competition" target="_blank">a poor review</a> of the Chrysler 200, a car that was promoted in <a href="http://www.wheels.ca/article/793753" target="_blank">a popular Super Bowl TV ad</a> starring rapper Eminem.<br /><br />Scott Burgess' review, posted on the newspaper's website, was changed to strike some passages that appeared in the newspaper's March 10 print edition, including a reference to the car as a "dog."<br /><br />Burgess, 43, said he resigned Wednesday after meeting with News editor and publisher Jon Wolman.<br /><br />"It's just a matter of principle," Burgess told The Associated Press.<br /><br />A call seeking comment from Wolman was referred to Rich Harshbarger, a spokesman for Detroit Media Partnership, which runs the newspaper's business operations. He said a car dealer had complained about Burgess' column.<br /><br />"The intent was to make the edits an improvement and we obviously handled it poorly. We should have let the online version of his review stand as written," Harshbarger said. "The edits didn't repaint the review. That's precisely the point why the newsroom shouldn't have done it."<br /><br />Indeed, the deletions did not turn Burgess' piece into praise for the 200, a sedan that Chrysler hopes will compete well against its rivals. Detroit still is buzzing about the Super Bowl ad that showed Eminem driving a 200 through the city's downtown. The catchy slogan: "Imported from Detroit."<br /><br />Burgess' online review did not include this passage, which was in the print version: "If this car came in tortoise shell, the EPA would have to put it on the endangered sedan list to prevent trappers and automotive enthusiasts from rightfully shooting it into extinction."<br /><br />Both versions carried these lines: "The Chrysler 200 makes me angry. No one is prouder of the Motor City, and I want every carmaker, foreign and domestic, to produce world-class cars and trucks. When that happens, consumers win."<br /><br />In an interview, Burgess said he was told March 11 what to take out of the story posted online.<br /><br />"I regret not standing up and saying, 'No, we can't change this.' I felt I'm just as guilty letting it happen," he said. "I kind of felt like a deer in the headlights. I didn't know what to do."<br /><br />Harshbarger said it's unfortunate that Burgess resigned.<br /><br />"This organization still stands for the truth and telling the truth," Harshbarger said </p>

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