By: Joe Strupp
David Burgin, who was fired as editor in chief of The Examiner in San Francisco after just more than a year at the helm, criticized his former employers for pushing him out after he “saved the paper.”
“They think they’re newspaper people and they aren’t,” Burgin said Friday, a day after Examiner Publisher Florence Fang gave him the bad news by phone. “If they gave awards for ingratitude, the Fangs would win.”
Florence Fang did not return calls seeking comment.
Executive Editor Zoran Basich, who edited the Fang’s semiweekly San Francisco Independent between 1996 and 2000 before moving to The Examiner, took over for Burgin and praised his work: “When he got to The Examiner, it was in trouble,” Basich said. “He made it respectable and good.”
Burgin’s departure is the latest in a long line of shake-ups at the newspaper, which has had difficulties since former Publisher Ted Fang, Florence’s son, took control of it in November 2000. The Hearst Corp. gave up the newspaper at that time, and provided a three-year, $66 million subsidy to operate it after buying the larger, more profitable San Francisco Chronicle.
Burgin became editor in chief less than a month after the Fangs took over, replacing the first editor, Marty Steffens. Since then, a number of other top editors have resigned or been fired, and Ted Fang was pushed out as editor and publisher by his mother last October.
“The whole thing has really changed direction,” Burgin said of the paper. “The future looks dim.”
Burgin, whose previous experience includes a stint as Examiner editor in 1985 and 1986 under Hearst and similar posts at the Dallas Times Herald and Houston Post, said he was originally hired for six months, but extended his time at the Fangs’ request. “I didn’t enjoy working for them,” he said. “I was treated shabbily for the last six months. I had no help and no money.”
Sources at the paper said Burgin at one time had been offered a new position overseeing editorial operations at The Examiner, Independent, and the Fangs’ AsianWeek magazine, but turned it down.
Health problems also contributed to Burgin’s departure, he said. The 62-year-old suffered a stroke in 1997. He said he will continue to operate a publishing company in Emeryville, Calif., and will likely not take another newspaper editing position.