Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blair and Blatant Plagiarism

Jayson Blair, former reporter for The New York Times, was discovered guilty of numerous counts of sloppy journalism in 2003 dating back to his college days.

Former San Antonio Express-News reporter, Macarena Hernandez broke the story after she discovered vital components of her story had trickled into a Blair Times story.

"I'd torn his story apart, diagramming the similarities. There was no doubt about it. It was my story. The plagiarism was extremely obvious, stealing lines and phrases that I had written verbatim,” she told Gigi Anders with the American Journalism Review in 2004.

In April 2003, Hernandez wrote a story about a single mother whose only son was reported as missing in action in Iraq. In the story Hernandez recounted visits with the anguished mother and described key elements of the setting only to find the exact details reprinted later in a Blair article. She told Anders she knew for sure Blair had never interviewed the woman after he called her to supposedly double check a quote he said the mother had given in Spanish. Unknown to Blair, the woman didn’t even speak Spanish.

The discovery of the Hernandez story copy-cat led to investigations by the University of Maryland and The Times. In addition to lifted quotes, his college-day stories included warped information and factual errors.

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