Why Jayson Blair’s story still relevant
“A Fragile Trust” is a new documentary on a 15 year old story about the failure to address mental illness in the work place.
Jayson Blair was a talented young reporter until his career ended after allegations of plagiarism. The result of an internal investigation discovered that Blair had fabriacated 36 out of 76 national stories at the New York Times.
Jayson was then let go from the Times, and was later discovered to have suffered from bipolar disorder and an addiction problem. Samantha Grant’s documentary examines several interviews and accouns of Blair’s former coworkers and tries to examine the age old question of what went wrong?
The Blair case happened over a decade ago when mental illness was not a common subject in the work place. Recognizing the signs of mental illness has become easier to spot, but throughout the documentary it was clear that Jayson was having problems.
According to the documentary he would frequently submit company credit card reimbursement forms from bars, he was known as “the office character” and his stories often needed to be majorly corrected. After a series of issues Jayson was shuffled around to another department. The upsetting part was the lack of communication to his new supervisors of why he was relocated to a different department.
Blair then spiraled down a path that destroyed his career and raised the typical question of How could this have happened? instead of “Why did this happen?
It is easy to label the work environment or world events as scapegoats, but the root cause of Jayson’s problems stemmed from his illness.
Jayson’s story is still important, because if symptoms of mental health disorders go unnoticed at companies it does not just hurt the individual. The results of Blair’s widespread plagiarism hurt the paper, his coworkers and the journalism profession.