West Valley City, Utah- Mayor Mike Winder didn't like the amount of crime stories being written about his city, the second largest city in Utah. He decided to take matters into his own hands by writing good things about his city.
Mayor Winder started writing under the name of Richard Burwash. The alias name he used is a name he took from the Internet of a real person. Burwash at one time was a professional tennis player from California.
The Boston Globe reports Mayor Winder said, “I thought about all the people just reading about crime in our city and nothing better. I’m trying to stand up for us because we do get the short end of the stick - negative stories.’’
He set up accounts with the Deseret News, KSL-TV’s website and a community weekly. He never had to show his face to the editors he communicated with them by email or the phone.
He was an unpaid writer who wrote only good things about West Windy City.
The Deseret News had cut its newsroom staff and consolidated its operations with the television and radio stations that they were affiliated with. At that time they started accepting contributions from other writers.
Winder wrote a story about the opening of a Buddhist Temple and even quoted himself as saying, “We applaud any time a group builds a place to celebrate peace and to encourage people to live better lives.” writes washingtonpost.com
He later said, “I was an easy source.”
One time he even let his sister, using his alias, write one of the stories. He said all the stories were "100 percent factually correct.” Well that is with the exception for the byline.
Winder decided to confess what he was doing after he learned that Deseret has a no-fake byline policy.
The executives at the Deseret News weren't too happy when they learned what the mayor had been doing.
Clark Gilbert, president and CEO of the Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media said, “While we appreciate that Mayor Winder would, of his own accord, quit writing under the assumed name and then detail the error to us, we remain highly concerned that someone would purposely misrepresent himself. We deeply regret that Mayor Winder would do this.” writes washingtonpost.com.
Winder has thoughts about running for the mayor of Salt Lake City and thought it would be better to reveal what he had been doing himself.
Nydailynes.com reports Winder said, "I'd rather disclose it on my own terms than by a political enemy."
Some of the residents in West Valley City are comparing Winder to historic figures who wrote under pen names during the American revolution. There are others who are taking it differently. They wonder if he might have other secrets.
Pat Gonzales who has lived in West Valley City for 30 years said, "He's the mayor, but I don't see him doing anything. Maybe he's too busy being a news reporter."