Jayson Blair

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For the actor, see Jayson Blair (actor).

Jayson Blair (born March 23, 1976) is an American life coach and journalist formerly with The New York Times. He resigned from the newspaper in May 2003 in the wake of the discovery of plagiarism and fabrication in his stories.



Blair was born in Columbia, Maryland, the son of a federal executive and a schoolteacher. While attending the University of Maryland, College Park, he was a student journalist. He became editor-in-chief of its student newspaper, The Diamondback, for the 1996–1997 school year. According to a letter later signed by 30 staffers,[1] Blair made four serious errors as a reporter and editor that brought his integrity into question. The letter-signers alleged that questions about those errors were ignored by the board that owned the paper. Among the mistakes they cited was an award-winning story about a student who died of a cocaine overdose who was subsequently found to have actually died of a heart ailment.[2][3]

After a summer interning at The New York Times over the summer in 1998, Blair was offered an extended internship. He declined in order to complete more coursework for graduation. He returned to The New York Times in June 1999, with still a year of course work to complete.[4] That November, he became an "intermediate reporter."[4]

On April 28, 2003, Blair received a call from Times national editor Jim Roberts asking him about similarities between a story he had written two days earlier[5] and one written by San Antonio Express-News reporter Macarena Hernandez on April 18.[6] Hernandez had a summer internship at The Times years earlier and had worked alongside Blair. The senior editor of the San Antonio Express-News contacted The Times about close similarities between Blair's article and a story penned by his reporter, Hernandez.[1]

The resulting inquiry led to the discovery of fabrication and plagiarism in a number of articles Blair had written.[7] Some untruths include Blair's claims to have traveled from New York to the city mentioned in the byline, when he did not.

Some of the suspect articles include the following:

The Times reported on Blair's journalistic misdeeds in an unprecedented 7,239-word front-page story on May 11, 2003, headlined "Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception." The story called the affair "a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper."[4] On the NPR radio show "Talk of the Nation", Blair explained that his fabrications started with what he thought was a relatively innocent infraction: using a quote from a press conference which he had missed. He described a gradual process whereby his ethical violations became worse and contended that his main motivation was a fear of not living up to the expectations that he and others had for his career.


The investigation saw heated debate over affirmative action hiring. Jonathan Landman, Blair's editor, told the Siegal committee he felt being black played a large part in Blair's initial promotion to full-time staffer. "I think race was the decisive factor in his promotion," he said. "I thought then and I think now that it was the wrong decision."[15] On May 14, 2003, while he was still Times executive editor, Howell Raines acknowledged at a massive meeting of Times news staffers, managers, and its publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., that Blair had gotten the breaks he had enjoyed because of his race. Five days later, Times African-American op-ed columnist Bob Herbert asserted in his column that race had nothing to do with the Blair case: "Listen up: the race issue in this case is as bogus as some of Jayson Blair's reporting." Herbert asserted that criticism of affirmative action must imply a racist criticism of blacks as such. "[F]olks who delight in attacking anything black, or anything designed to help blacks, have pounced on the Blair story as evidence that there is something inherently wrong with The Times's effort to diversify its newsroom, and beyond that, with the very idea of a commitment to diversity or affirmative action anywhere. And while these agitators won't admit it, the nasty subtext to their attack is that there is something inherently wrong with blacks."[16]

After resigning from The Times, Blair returned to college and said he planned to go into human resources.[17] The year after he left the Times, he published a memoir, Burning Down My Master's House. Although its initial print run was 250,000 copies, only 1,400 were sold in its first nine days.[18]

In popular culture

See also



  1. ^ a b Folkenflik, David (February 29, 2004). "The making of Jayson Blair". Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/topic/bal-as.blair23,0,5336838.story.
  2. ^ "Former Blair co-workers claim warnings ignored". The Diamondback. UWIRE.com. Archived from the original on January 15, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060115191349/http://www.uwire.com/content/topnews061303002.html. Retrieved June 13, 2003.
  3. ^ Flanagan, Jason. "Former Blair co-workers claim warnings ignored". ePeak 7, vol. 114. Simon Fraser University, June 16, 2003.
  4. ^ a b c "Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception". The New York Times. May 11, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/11/national/11PAPE.html?ex=1367985600&en=d6f511319c259463&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND.
  5. ^ Blair, Jayson (April 26, 2003). "AFTEREFFECTS: THE MISSING; Family Waits, Now Alone, for a Missing Soldier". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A06E7DE153DF935A15757C0A9659C8B63. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  6. ^ "MySA.com: Iraq: After the War". 2008. http://www.mysanantonio.com/specials/battlefield/stories/MYSA982379.xml.d7d1e3.html. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  7. ^ Rosen, Jill (June–July 2003). "All about the retrospect: Jayson Blair charmed and dazzled the right people on his rapid rise from cocky college student to New York Times national reporter. But he left plenty of clues about the serious problems that lay beneath the surface". American Journalism Review (College Park: University of Maryland) 25 (5): 32+.
  8. ^ Blair, Jayson (October 30, 2002). "Retracing A Trail: The Investigation; U.S. Sniper Case Seen As A Barrier To A Confession". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9406E3DC133FF933A05753C1A9649C8B63. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  9. ^ Blair, Jayson (February 10, 2003). "Peace and Answers Eluding Victims of the Sniper Attacks". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9906E7DD113BF933A25751C0A9659C8B63. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  10. ^ Blair, Jayson (March 3, 2003). "Making Sniper Suspect Talk Puts Detective in Spotlight". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900E3DD1F3CF930A35750C0A9659C8B63%20. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  11. ^ Blair, Jayson (March 27, 2003). "A NATION AT WAR: MILITARY FAMILIES; Relatives of Missing Soldiers Dread Hearing Worse News". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C03E3DE1E30F934A15750C0A9659C8B63. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  12. ^ Jehl, Douglas; Blair, Jayson (April 3, 2003). "A NATION AT WAR: THE HOMETOWN; Rescue in Iraq and a 'Big Stir' in West Virginia". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506E6D61F39F930A35757C0A9659C8B63. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  13. ^ Blair, Jayson (April 7, 2003). "A NATION AT WAR: THE FAMILIES; For One Pastor, the War Hits Home". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE1DB1338F934A35757C0A9659C8B63. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  14. ^ Blair, Jayson (April 19, 2003). "A NATION AT WAR: VETERANS; In Military Wards, Questions and Fears From the Wounded". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9407EFDD153AF93AA25757C0A9659C8B63. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  15. ^ "Jayson Blair: A Case Study of What Went Wrong at The New York Times". PBS. 2008. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/media/media_ethics/casestudy_blair.php. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  16. ^ Herbert, Bob (May 19, 2003). "Truth, Lies and Subtext". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DE0DF133EF93AA25756C0A9659C8B63.
  17. ^ Perrone, Matthew. "Jayson Blair searches for new life, reflects ... at the Wayback Machine". Fairfax County Times. June 9, 2005.
  18. ^ "Ex-journalists' books not selling". Los Angeles Times. March 20, 2004. http://articles.latimes.com/2004/mar/20/entertainment/et-quick20.4.
  19. ^ Rizzo, Frank (February 15, 2012). "'CQ/CX' by Gabe McKinley at Peter Norton Space". The New York Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/24/entertainment/la-et-jayson-blair-20120224.
  20. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (February 24, 2012). "Ripped from the fake headlines". Los Angeles Times. http://theater.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/theater/reviews/cq-cx-by-gabe-mckinley-at-peter-norton-space.html.
  21. ^ http://www.filmjerk.com/news/article.php?id_new=299
  22. ^ http://www.filmjerk.com/news/article.php?id_new=322
  23. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Lions-Tigers-Crocs-Oh-My/product-reviews/0740761552

Further reading

External links