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RIP David Burgin, an editor larger than life

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Riptide, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    HOUSTON (AP) - C. David Burgin, a longtime editor who gained a reputation as a troubleshooter for fading newspapers, died Monday at his home in Houston after a lengthy illness. He was 75.

    Burgin died of the effects of four serious strokes he had suffered since 1997, said his wife, Judy Burgin.

    Burgin had served as editor-in-chief of seven U.S. daily newspapers, starting with New Jersey's Paterson News in 1977.

    His first top management jobs came at The Washington Star, where he rose through the ranks of sports editor and city editor to assistant managing editor and hired such young talent as future New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and sportswriter Ira Berkow. He talked two Washington bartenders, future Boston Globe business writer Chris Reidy and future Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Daley, into trying newspaper work.

    After getting his first assignment of running a newspaper in 1977, as editor-in-chief of the Paterson News in New Jersey, The Tribune Co. hired him a year later to merge two of its San Francisco Bay area dailies into the Peninsula Times Tribune, then later sent him to improve and expand the Orlando Sentinel.

  2. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    He was a crusty guy with a loud voice, even when he wasn't yelling, which is what he was doing most of the time. He was an old-fashioned editor that way. He could have starred in "The Front Page" with no rehearsal. He did everything but shout, "Great Caesar's ghost," like Perry White. When he wanted to, man, he could ream you out, until there was nothing left of you. ...

    I went to his going away party. He came up to me and asked, "You think I didn't notice you avoiding me? I saw you walk on the other side of the newsroom. Why did you do that?"

    I'm pretty bold at boss's going away parties … "Why? Because you're a maniac. I didn't want you to yell at me."

    Burgin looked surprised and said, "But I liked you. I thought it was because you didn't like me."

    Tons of Burgin stories out there. This column describes him well.

  3. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Worked with him for a few years. Overheard a couple of his outbursts. Luckily, they weren't aimed in my direction. He could be very nice and if you were one of his people, he was supportive and gave a lot of people a boost in their careers. He offered to make some calls for me when I moved to Oregon. Also a pretty loyal guy to those loyal to him. But while I don't think he enjoyed his reputation, the papers he took over didn't mind using more stick than carrot to motivate the work force.
  4. Bronco77

    Bronco77 Well-Known Member

    Longtime lurker, first-time poster ...

    Heard this news, belatedly, a few days ago. I worked for the Dallas Times Herald when David Burgin was the executive editor and have some crazy memories. He once fired an assistant business editor in the middle of the newsroom over something that displeased him (the sports and business desks were right next to each other, so I had a front-row seat). On more than one occasion he wandered into the newsroom late at night, maybe 30 minutes before deadline, and angrily and profanely demanded that the sports section front be redone.

    But the paper's writing, reporting and editing became much sharper and more focused under his watch, and I can't say it wasn't an exciting place to work. He was capable of being very generous and gracious. I was an entry-level employee back then and didn't have much occasion to speak to him aside from saying hello, but when I left he told me I did good work and was sorry I was leaving and not to hesitate to call if I ever needed anything. That was nice of him.

    Unfortunately, he arrived too late to do much good in the war between the Times Herald and Morning News, which had taken an insurmountable lead in circulation, advertising and financial strength.
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