The question of Jayson Blair’s moral incompetence started before he ever set foot in The New York Times newsroom. According to an article by the Baltimore Sun, Blair was accused of numerous counts of slipshod journalism while working as a reporter and editor for The Diamondback, the campus newspaper for University of Maryland College Park.
After an investigation by a veteran editor, the university reported several factual errors and misquotes in many of Blair’s stories he reported for the Capital News Service, a student-staffed wire service.
Blair raised his fair share of eyebrows before leaving the UM campus, where he actually never earned a degree. Comments from former staffers cited Blair as someone who lied blatantly, plagiarized and was an “elbows-out competitor.” After the controversy a group of alumni from the newspaper wrote a letter criticizing the school for not tuning in to the Blair’s warning signs.
In Blair’s case, not only did he ruin his own short-lived journalism career, but he brought down the integrity of the newspaper where he worked. As a result of the controversy two Times editors resigned.
The lesson to learn here is to take full advantages of the training while you’re in school. Blair failed to abide by basic rules of journalism. Don’t steal quotes, fact check and just do lie. If a collegiate journalist decides to make habits these it could possibly set a trend that can continue into a professional career. If Blair’s case was nipped in bud the media might have been spared one more irresponsible journalist.