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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tip of the Iceberg

There have been two stories that have been revisited multiple times throughout the past week. While Japan’s status prompts should come to mind first, I humbly admit that our operations currently lack the resources to properly cover the affairs. Rather, I’d like to discuss the significance of automotive journalist Scott Burgess’ resignation from Detroit News.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, Scott Burgess, an automotive journalist for the publication Detroit News, published an article reviewing the new Chrysler  200 on Thursday, March 10.

The following is a passage of said article:
But the problem the 200 faces is that the competition has moved well past it in design and performance. Chrysler wants to eventually drive its luxury heritage home again, but this 200 won't help the brand sputter out of the parking lot. If this is the best vehicle Detroit exports, then Glenn Beck is right.
Too harsh? Far from it. In fact, 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. Regrettably, the 200 is still a dog. And I get mad as hell when anyone pumps out a car that forces me to recommend the Toyota Camry over it.
If you compare the 200 to any of the mainstream midsize competition — not the luxury brands it is purported to go up against — all of them outshine the 200.
36 hours after Burgess’ review had been put to print, Detroit News had asked for an edit to soften the version posted online, due to a call from an “advertiser” extending a complaint to Detroit News in regards to the review’s harsh and disrespectful delivery (albeit honest).

Scott Burgess explained that never in his career was he ever asked to edit a page due to pressures from an advertiser, and that his resignation was solely based on the “motivation behind the editing,” and questions of ethics behind the act.

I call this a "lose-lose-FAIL!" scenario. Scott Burgess lost a job he once enjoyed doing, The Detroit News lost a regarded writer, and Chrysler, whether they are the “advertiser” or not, is suffering the irony of an ever more negative reputation.

I admire Scott Burgess for taking a stance in what he believes in. A journalist should never feel like he must appease the demands of advertisers, especially if it undermines the trust bestowed upon him by the reader. I accept The Detroit News’ apology as well. Their sincere apology to both the readers and to Scott Burgess was brought forth with transparency of the event as well as a decision to restore the Chrysler 200 review back to its original version.

What I cannot drop, however, is Chrysler’s failure in being reputable and competitive. Perhaps the ordeal is a blessing in disguise. It's the tip of the iceberg that stuck out above the surface, revealing to us the extent of instability within Chrysler .

No, the advertiser was never revealed to be Chrysler themselves, but it’s certainly hard to believe they didn’t have their hand in this one way or another. That said, I am again reminded of their public promise after their bankruptcy no more than two years ago—to get their act together and make America proud again. They have embarrassed us instead.

Back in November, I’ve written a rant against Chrysler’s inability to produce anything I liked. But I beg for Chrysler to understand that they are a company that was once capable of creating innovation in the market with the likes of the Caravan. Chrysler, stop living in the past. I don’t think Chrysler has made a class leading product in a decade.

From the tone of Scott Burgess’ review, I am convinced he feels the same way. Chrysler, you’ve embarrassed us. A journalist should never have to “soften” their reviews when it is your car that is at fault. There should never be any sort of unethical pressure to the editors, writers, and publishers-- especially not from a company that had only filed for bankruptcy not too long ago. I understand that producing great products again is a tall order to accomplish in a short period of time, but we do at least expect to see steps heading in the right direction.

Finally, all of us from FPH would like to show our support to Scott Burgess. And although we're a small outfit now, I take this opportunity to pledge to readers that FPH will always write with equal objective integrity.

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