June 6, 2012 – The friction between Auburn beatwriter Evan Woodbery and a contingent of Auburn fans continues to grow.
The Never to Yield Foundation twice chastised Woodbery in recent weeks for what we consider a relentless negative slant toward Auburn University athletics that seeps through the articles he writes for al.com and its affiliated newspapers (The Mobile Press-Register, The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times).
It’s a controversial position. We know that. We’ve been assailed by journalists affiliated with other Auburn media outlets who defend Woodbery as a quality writer who is only doing his job. We’ve been lambasted by members of the Auburn community. We understand their reasoning and respect their opinions.
Yet here we are again.
Tuesday’s column about Auburn track star Harry Adams was poorly sourced and presented the Auburn football program in the most negative light possible. Woodbery’s article told only one side of the story, the side that had the greatest potential to smear Auburn in the minds of recruits and their families.
We are not going to provide a link to the story for reasons that will become clear as you read.
Woodbery inadvertently (or perhaps purposely) admitted via Twitter later that he was aware of circumstances that had he bothered to add them to the story would have dramatically changed the tone.
The story would have read completely differently had Woodbery honestly reported the departure of Adams from the football team. He or his editors chose not to. Instead, Woodbery portrayed it as a schism between Adams’ desire to run track and a desire by Auburn coaches for him to focus on football.
Woodbery took what could have been an inspiring story about a young man overcoming adversity on the way to a new and positive dream and turned it into a blanket condemnation of the Auburn football program.
At this point it seems obvious that there is a purpose behind his prose. That purpose does not appear to be in the best interests of Auburn.
We don’t speak for all Auburn fans. Neither do those who characterize our displeasure with Woodbery as “silliness.” No one speaks for all.
We do, however, speak for a rising tide (pardon the pun) of Auburn fans who are weary of the constant barrage of negativity and divisiveness that permeates his writing. It’s part of our mission to make sure that voice is heard.
Before we proceed, let us make three things perfectly clear:
1) We do not want a fan who only writes glowing feel-good pieces about the Auburn athletic program. We want, and demand, that toads be called toads. What we don’t want is someone who sees toads first and rarely bothers to look beyond at the beautiful garden.
2) Contrary to what our critics allege, we have not demanded nor are we currently demanding that Woodbery be fired. We happen to agree with some of our detractors that the quality of his writing is at least as good as the rest of what populates al.com. We object to his tone. Our request is that he (or his editors) work harder at eliminating the negative drumbeat and endeavor to bring Auburn fans fair and balanced coverage. If that’s not possible with Woodbery as the beatwriter, then he can certainly be reassigned to another beat as the papers restructure.
3) We have not called for nor are we currently calling for an organized boycott. We believe in freedom of expression and freedom of the press. We are merely listing possible options. What you decide to do with the information is your decision. We know where we stand. We know what we intend to do. You’re free to make your own choice.
We’ve pointed out what we and many others believe are clear and persistent trends toward negativity by Auburn beatwriter Evan Woodbery. Since we first voiced our displeasure there has been no improvement. In fact, the negative harangue seems to have intensified.
We don’t want to waste any more of your time reading or our time writing about this issue. Continuing to complain about the same issue is pointless. Things are as they are.
Our opinion is on record. We are moving on.
To that end:
- We will no longer read any story on al.com written by Evan Woodbery.
- We will not click any link that contains his byline.
- We have canceled/will cancel our subscriptions to the newspapers that carry his articles.
- We will not buy the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News or Huntsville Times from a newsstand.
- We will not include links from his columns in our articles.
- We will not share his articles on our Facebook page.
As Auburn fans we have other options. We choose now to exercise them.
We sincerely hope the situation improves. We hope Woodbery and his editors appreciate the thousands of fans they are potentially driving to other outlets for Auburn news. We hope they come to realize that Auburn deserves fair and equitable treatment in the media.