Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cecil Bothwell Fired

UPDATE: Almost a week since the firing, and there's still no word from Mountain Xpress regarding the reasons. I left a message yesterday with Jon Elliston. He called back, leaving a message with me saying that something would come out today. I just called him again and left another message.

So this is a lame update because there's no new information. Anyone think the Xpress just plans on waiting for folks to stop caring?

You can call them if you're curious - 251-1333

From a press release sent by Cecil:

"Best” on Wednesday, fired on Friday - Asheville’s most popular journalist sacked"

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Mountain Xpress reporter Cecil Bothwell was tapped for the second time as Asheville’s best local print reporter in the paper’s 2007 annual reader poll. Two days later, the journalist was called to the publisher Jeff Fobe’s office and fired.

“It was almost funny,” Bothwell reported. “After winning the vote, I half-way imagined that a summons to Fobes’ office might involve a raise; instead Fobes and Managing Editor Jon Elliston told me they had decided to terminate my employment.”

Bothwell wrote the first cover story for the Mountain Xpress in 1994, an investigation into the widespread failure of the DARE drug education program. In the years since, he uncovered corruption in the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, exposed back-room dealings in local government, delved into environmental hazards and became something of an expert on Asheville’s development rules. “I only know about three other people who have read the Unified Development Ordinance cover-to-cover,” he said. “It’s a little dry.”

In addition to features stories on subjects ranging from UFO “experts” to nuclear fuel transport to the fellow who scrubs Asheville’s monuments, his writing included book, music and theater reviews. He also served as gardening editor and columnist for the paper. Along the way, he won national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting, criticism and humorous commentary. As representative of the paper, he served on the national editorial board of the AAN from 2002 to 2007. His opinion column, Duck Soup: Essays on
the Submerging Culture, was syndicated nationally for 10 years and aired on WNCW 88.7FM. He was founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, and served as managing editor of Mountain Xpress from 2002 to 2004. Bothwell’s books include

Gorillas in the Myth, The Icarus Glitch and co-authorship (with Betsy Ball) of the local best-selling guidebook, Finding Your Way in Asheville. For three years before the Xpress began publishing, Bothwell wrote news stories and the monthly humor column for Fobes’ Green Line.

Bothwell’s latest book, The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire, will be released in November."

Bothwell's campaign contribution to City Council candidate Elaine Lite has been cited as a reason for Bothwell's dismissal. I this the only reason? Bothwell is an icon in Asheville, and I'm hoping that the Xpress editors will take the time to explain their decision. What gives?


Gordon Smith said...

Neither Fobe nor Elliston are in this morning, and no one at the Xpress seems to understand the rationale behind the firing.

I've been told to call them around 2pm to get either Fobe or Elliston.

Gourmet Grrl said...

Thank you for following this, Gordon. I am EXTREMELY disappointed to hear this news. Please send more updates as you discover them. Dang.

shadmarsh said...

Would the upcoming publication of a not so flattering book on Billy Graham have anything to do with it?

Gordon Smith said...

I just left a message with Jon Elliston, and I expect there will be a statement of some sort soon.

If you'd like to call, the number for Mtn. X is 251-1333.

Gordon Smith said...

Btw - Ashvegas is covering this as well. There's honest to Jeebus journalismers over there with their take on the haps.