The mayor of a large city in Utah admitted he used an alias to pose as a reporter and write news stories, sometimes about himself, because he wanted to “try to restore balance.”
West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder admitted he used a fake name to write freelance stories for local news outlets like Deseret News, Oquirrh Times and KSL-TV’s website because he thought the city needed more “good news,” according to the AP.
Winder said he used the name Richard Burwash for several months after setting up GMail and Facebook accounts for his new identity. He said that he was angry the Deseret News had cut down on its coverage of city government but not its crime coverage, so he wanted to “try to restore balance,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
From the Tribune:
Winder said the Oquirrh Times editor knew he was the author of the articles. He decided to do the same with the Deseret News — but did not inform the editors that he was the writer — after he attended an event last year where Clark Gilbert, president and CEO of Deseret News, talked about Deseret Connect, Winder said. When he asked Gilbert when his paper was going to resume covering the city, the editor said the News didn’t have the resources and that someone who attends city events and likes to write could contribute articles, according to Winder.
“I care deeply about having news stories about my community beyond what the crime desk churns out, since there is a negative reputation we are working hard to turn around,” Winder said. “In a three-month period, 16 percent of Salt Lake Tribune stories that mentioned West Valley City were about crime, but 56 percent of Deseret News stories about my city were about crime.”
“All of the articles submitted by Richard Burwash were 100 percent truthful, accurate, and verifiable,” Winder told the Tribune.