A fragile trust that was so easily broken
Jayson Blair fabricated and plagiarized many headline stories for the New York Times, hurting not only the collegues that he worked with but also the people who’s lives he stole from; his actions opened up larger issues surrounding trust and ethics, proving the system was not working.
The documentary by Samanta Grant “A Fragile Trust” opens with Jayson Blair saying he lost himself before he had even been presented with a choice. Dating all the way back to high school, Jayson Blair has been known to plaigarize and cheat his way to the top, he found a sense of “instant gratification” and was “constantly chasing this high” (Jayson). Journlism in high school had evolved from this call to help people heal and advocate for positive change, to blatant cheating and stealing on Jayson’s part.
After interning at The New York Times, Jayson Blair quickly accepted a full time reporting job and he down spirled quickly. The process started by taking a few sentences here and there from specific unknown articles and escalated to stealing paragraphs, quotes, and interviews from many different writers.
Marcarena Hernandez, a reporter for a local paper in Dallas Texas, personally felt cheated when Jayson Blair stole pieces of her aritlce on a missing soldier and single mother in pain. Hernandez says that “he stole a lot more than words” and recounts her emotions when she finally figured out that Jayson never visited or interviewed the mother, he never had actually even visited Texas. He sat on his couch in Manhattan and stole his information from other qualified writers. Hernandez comments on Jayson’s attentino to detail when he mentions the “pinstriped couches, the tennis bracelet in its red case and the Martha Stewart furniture out on the patio” in his “fake” interview with the family.
Jayson Blair was a talented writer and critical thinker, but threw his journalist career away along with the trust of his audience and collegues.
Pressure intensified from not only editors from the magazine but also from Jayson himself, he had an addictive alcohol and drug problem. Collegues commented on the fact that Jayson never ate full meals, barely showered, slept at the office, and wore the same clothes for days at a time. The pressure was not only taking a toll on Jayson’s mental health but also on his physical health and well being as well. Things quickly deteriorated.
Clearly, Jayson Blair’s scandal showed many holes in the fragile system of journalims. He crossed the line between ethics and honesty and destroyed a fragile trust he held between his audience, coworkers, and and collegues.