Ethics Probe Snares Music Writer

Music writer and columnist Ramiro Burr resigned from the San Antonio Express-News June 10th as the newspaper was wrapping up an ethics investigation into allegations he hired a ghost writer to produce more than 100 stories and columns since 2001.

Burr, who was also a local correspondent for Billboard and wrote the 1999 book "The Billboard Guide to Tejano and Regional Mexican Music," allegedly used his own byline on ghostwritten Express-News material.

"Ramiro caused the Express-News to unknowingly publish work under his name that was not, in fact, his own work," editor Robert Rivard was quoted by the paper as saying.

"It was the work of at least one other writer who did not receive credit and who we did not know about. Ramiro decided on his own to resign just as our investigation was concluding and we were preparing to take appropriate action. We have a zero-tolerance policy whenever someone on our staff presents work as their own that is not their own."

Burr’s attorney reportedly sent Rivard a letter defending his client, saying Burr is a syndicated columnist whose work is governed by a different standard from that of the Express-News, which "never questioned" his work.

"I may have been a little overzealous, or overreached in trying to be the best reporter/syndicated columnist I could be," Burr said in a statement reported by the paper. "I sincerely apologize for breaking any rules."

The Express-News reported it initiated the investigation after lawyers for Douglas Shannon contacted Rivard seeking "formal byline credit" for stories Shannon said he wrote in 2001-03. The purported ghostwriter claimed he transcribed and translated interviews Burr conducted during 2006-08.

Among the allegations against Burr were that Shannon wrote all 80 of his "Latin Notes" columns and 24 other stories published in the Express-News between December 14, 2003, and June 27, 2004.

Shannon reportedly sent a letter to the Houston Chronicle making similar claims about five articles that appeared in that newspaper under Burr’s byline.

Burr moderated as scheduled a panel discussion June 12th at a Latino music conference in San Antonio sponsored by The Recording Academy.