Monday, April 7, 2008
Where do they find the gall?
Jayson Blair, a former New York Times writer, quit in 2003 amid the discovery of possibly the biggest blunder the New York Times has ever seen on their own paper. The New York Times reported in their "Correcting the Record" issue that he "fabricated comments. He concocted scenes. He lifted material from other newspapers and wire services. He selected details from photographs to create the impression he had been somewhere or seen someone, when he had not."
Allen Siegel, an assistant managing editor of the paper, headed the Siegel committee to investigate how many stories Blair had fabricated information in. They discovered 36 of his 73 stories he had written since October 2002, or as The New York Times said "since he started getting national reporting assignments," were questionable.
36 out of 73. That is just barely under half of all the stories he wrote in the time he covered national assignments for The New York Times.
The newspaper reported a year before Blair finally resigned, Jonathan Landman, the metropolitan editor, wrote to the paper's administrators telling them that they "need to stop Jayson Blair from writing for the Times. Right now." And after Blair was warned and took a leave of absence due to personal problems, the Times said their two top editors (who resigned soon after Blair's departure for their own role regarding Blair) thought his writing improved again soon after he returned. A few months later he was promoted to cover national stories. The paper reported that public officials and his colleagues were beginning to challenge his stories the same month he was promoted to the national desk, yet he stayed on until May when he finally quit.
"I don't know today whether Blair just had a bad source," Robert Horan, Jr., a prosecutor in Fairfax County, Virginia, said in a press conference denouncing Blair's reporting of the sniper attacks in Washington D.C. "It was equally probable at the time that he was just sitting there writing fiction."
Here is a link to the New York Times story exposing Blair.
The New York Times article "CORRECTING THE RECORD; Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception"