It appears one Utah mayor has a little too much time on his hands. It’s been revealed West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder has written articles for various media outlets under a fake name and local editors were unaware of his real identity (until now). Mayor Winder used the name Richard Burwash (we couldn’t help but notice that the surname sounds similar to “brainwash”) to write freelance stories that shone a positive light on his city. The mayor even went so far as to create a gmail and facebook account for his writer’s identity.
So what was the mayor’s reasoning for going through so much trouble? According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Winder was disheartened by limited coverage of city government due to layoffs at media outlets; however, the mayor believed that crime coverage remained steady and he wanted to “restore balance” to the region’s news coverage. The mayor commented the following to the Tribune:
“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. 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."
Our favorite detail is when Winder decided to drop the pen name, he told one media outfit that “Burwash had moved to London.” Ironically, Mayor Winder has managed to bring attention to his city now, but probably not in the way he had hoped.