How Plagiarism Can Change A Life

Tonight in Media Writing we watched a documentary called “A Fragile Trust” about the story of Jayson Blair and how he plagiarized many stories when he wrote for the New York Times.

In the documentary “A Fragile Trust” I learned about the life of Jayson and how he got into the profession of journalism. Jayson was interested in journalism since a young age because it allowed him the opportunity to ask why. He began his career as a promosing young journalist and people were automotically drawn to liking him. Jerry Gray was a renowned journalist at the New York Times and he was the mentor of Jayson Blair. In the beginning of Jason’s career everything was perfect. He loved journalism because he could educate and entertain people with his stories.

The first red flag with Jayson’s issue with lying and plagarism was when he stole quotes from a reporter from the San Antonio Express about a story in Los Fresnos. It took a little investigating to figure out that Jason had in fact plagarized his article that was published in the New York Times.

As time went on Jayson was diagnosed with depression and experienced symtoms of mania. In addition, Jayson was a heavy drinker and he sometimes used cocain to help lift him to new heights during his darker days. These were major red flags that should have been addressed more seriously in regards to him keeping his job. His struggle with mental illness was something he had to cope with everyday while still maintaining the pressure of writing for the New York Times.

Jayson Blair began plagiarizing more and more throughout his career with the New York Times. It was difficult to detect because Jayson would steal quotes and facts from various other stories and piece them all together to create his own story. Jayson said journalism was a perfect playground for curiousity.

As an outsider it is hard to determine if Jayson’s plagiarism was due to his mental illness or his enjoyment of playing this game of curiousity. Regardless, his lying and plagiarism hurt so many people and significantly damaged the reputation of the New York Times.

Plagiarism can not only affect the quality and integrity of a news story, but it can also change someone’s life as it did in the case of Jayson Blair. Plagiarism is defined by google as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”

I want this story to be a message to all students out there not to plagiarize their writing. Plagiarizing is a form of lying. Some people might think that small lies are no big deal, but in my opinion small lies are just as damaging as big lies. A firm line needs to be drawn in regard to lying. Lying can break trust, damage your credibility, and destroy your reputation. Once you have lied once, it will be hard for anyone to forget that and gain your trust again. The story of Jayson Blair is a good example of how lying and plagiarizing can ruin your life.