Jason Blair, Stephen Glass, and Scott Templeton step aside. We’ve got a new unethical journalist to tar and feather. The longtime music writer and columnist for the San Antonio Express-News resigned this week over claims that he hired a ghost writer for more than 100 stories and columns. Ramiro Burr covered music for the past 25 years. He was also the local correspondent for Billboard magazine. In April, Douglas Shannon contacted the paper seeking "formal byline credit" for stories he ghost-wrote in 2001, 2002, and 2003. As evidence, he presented to the paper’s lawyers a binder containing invoices, email correspondences and copies of stories that he either wrote or substantially helped Burr write.
The ethical waters were murky at best: Shannon worked as Burr’s intern from 2001 to 2003 from the offices of Munoz Public Relations, a firm that represents a local musical organization, Mariachi Vargas, which was part of Burr’s beat. Shannon claimed he wrote all 80 of Burr’s “Latin Notes” columns that ran in the paper’s Weekender section between December 2001 and June 2003. He also claimed he wrote 24 stories during that period under Burr’s byline.
Burr decided to quit on his own, just as the paper was most likely getting ready to boot his ass. It has a zero-tolerance policy on claiming someone else’s work as one’s own. But Burr claims that he’s governed by a different set of rules than his colleagues at the paper because he’s a syndicated columnist.
“I may have been a little overzealous, or overreached in trying to be the best reporter/syndicated columnist I could be,” Burr said. “I sincerely apologize for breaking any rules.”
Shannon had this to say: "I’m also disappointed that the Express-News didn’t notice the change in the work he was turning in between 2001 and 2003. Unfortunately, Burr’s ethics were not isolated slip-ups, but were repeated, frequent, and continued over a significant period of time." [San Antonio Express-News]