As a faithful reader of the Mountain Xpress, I was shocked and disappointed by your firing of reporter Cecil Bothwell. I am stunned by your action and very concerned about the direction of your publication. Bothwell is a powerful part of what makes your paper “alternative” from the news perspective, and that is precisely what I am looking for when I pick up the Xpress each week. While I find your entertainment features amusing, it is my interest in learning about issues affecting this community—beyond what appears in mainstream media—that has kept me reading your paper. It concerns me deeply to know that you have fired a contributor who strived to give voice to views often ignored in this community.
But what really got me to write was your “official” response to readers on mountainx.com. It smacked of condescension and ass-covering. There is a smug tone as you note that Cecil sent out “his own press release,” as though that is not totally within his right. You also take some pseudo “high road” as you imply that Bothwell had it coming, but that you’re just too noble to tell us why (but we would totally agree if we only knew). Yet you add [that] you really hope he’ll continue to be a contributor?
I have had the opportunity to get to know Cecil Bothwell and believe him to be a man of honesty, integrity and tireless commitment to social and environmental justice. You may not always have agreed with him, or maybe he presented positions not popular with advertisers or officials, but isn’t that what we want in reporters—especially for a paper that touts itself as alternative? I know I do, and I feel betrayed by your actions.
— Liza Cherner