Jayson Blair Biography
Jayson Thomas Blair (born March 23, 1976) is a former American journalist who worked for The New York Times. He resigned from the newspaper in May 2003 in the wake of the discovery of fabrication and plagiarism in his stories.
In 2003, The New York Times reported on one of the biggest scandals of the year and it all unfolded in their own newsroom. Jayson Blair, a promising young reporter, plagiarized and lied in dozens of stories he wrote for the prestigious newspaper.
He wrote about locations he never visited, quoted conversations that never took place, and fabricated events. Jayson’s actions were exposed after staff at the San Antonio Express-News discovered he had plagiarized one of their articles.
After resigning from Times, Blair wrote his memoir, Burning Down My Master’s House. He is currently a certified life coach in The Washington, D.C. area. He also started a support group for people with bipolar disorder; Blair was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the time of the scandal.
Blair published a memoir of this period, entitled Burning Down My Masters’ House (2004), recounting his career, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder after his resignation, and his view of race relations at the newspaper. He later established a support group for people with bipolar disorder and became a life coach.
Jayson Blair Age
Jayson Thomas Blair is a former American journalist who worked for The New York Times. He resigned from the newspaper in May 2003 in the wake of the discovery of fabrication and plagiarism in his stories. Jayson Thomas Blair was born on March 23, 1976, in Columbia, Maryland, United States. he is 43 years old as of 2019
Jayson Blair Background
Blair was born in Columbia, Maryland, the son of a federal executive and a schoolteacher. While attending the University of Maryland, College Park, he was a student journalist. For 1996–1997, he was selected as the second African-American editor-in-chief of its student newspaper, The Diamondback. According to a 2004 article by the Baltimore Sun, some of his fellow students opposed his selection.
After a summer interning at The New York Times in 1998, Blair was offered an extended internship there. He declined in order to complete more coursework for graduation. But he returned to the Times in June 1999, with a year of coursework left to complete. That November, he was classified as an “intermediate reporter”. He was later promoted to a full reporter and then to editor.
Jayson Blair Plagiarism and fabrication scandal
On April 28, 2003, Blair received a call from Times national editor James Roberts asking him about similarities between a story he had written two days earlier and one published April 18 by San Antonio Express-News reporter Macarena Hernandez. The senior editor of the Express-News had contacted the Times about the similarities between Blair’s article in the Times and Hernandez’s article in his paper.
The resulting inquiry led to the discovery of fabrication and plagiarism in a number of articles written by Blair. Some fabrications include Blair’s claims to have traveled to the city mentioned in the dateline, when in fact he did not.
Suspect articles include the following:
In the October 30, 2002 piece “US Sniper Case Seen as a Barrier to a Confession”, Blair wrote that a dispute between police authorities had ruined the interrogation of Beltway sniper suspect John Muhammad and that Muhammad was about to confess, quoting unnamed officials.
This was swiftly denied by everyone involved. Blair also named certain lawyers, who were not present, as having witnessed the interrogation.
In the February 10, 2003 piece “Peace and Answers Eluding Victims of the Sniper Attacks”, Blair claimed to be in Washington. He allegedly plagiarized quotations from a Washington Post story and fabricated quotations from a person he had never interviewed.
Blair ascribed a wide range of attributes to a man featured in the article, almost all of which the man in question denied. Blair also published information that he had promised was to be off the record.
In the March 3, 2003 piece “Making Sniper Suspect Talk Puts Detective in Spotlight”, Blair claimed to be in Fairfax, Virginia. He described a videotape of Lee Malvo, the younger defendant in the case, being questioned by police and quoted officials’ review of the tape. No such tape existed. Blair also claimed a detective noticed blood on a man’s jeans leading to a confession, which had not occurred.
In the March 27, 2003 piece “Relatives of Missing Soldiers Dread Hearing Worse News”, Blair claimed to be in West Virginia. He allegedly plagiarized quotations from an Associated Press article.
He claimed to have spoken to the father of Jessica Lynch, who had no recollection of meeting Blair; said “tobacco fields and cattle pastures” were visible from Lynch’s parents’ house when they were not; erroneously stated that Lynch’s brother was in the National Guard; misspelled Lynch’s mother’s name; and fabricated a dream that he claimed she had had.
In the April 3, 2003 piece “Rescue in Iraq and a ‘Big Stir’ in West Virginia”, Blair claimed to have covered the Lynch story from her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia. Blair never traveled to Palestine, and his entire contribution to the story consisted of rearranged details from Associated Press stories.
In the April 7, 2003 piece “For One Pastor, the War Hits Home”, Blair wrote of a church service in Cleveland and an interview with the minister. Blair never went to Cleveland; he spoke to the minister by telephone and copied portions of the article from an earlier Washington Post article.
He also plagiarized quotations from The Plain Dealer and New York Daily News. He fabricated a detail about the minister keeping a picture of his son inside his Bible and got the name of the church wrong.
In the April 19, 2003 piece “In Military Wards, Questions and Fears from the Wounded”, Blair described interviewing four injured soldiers in a naval hospital. He had never gone to the hospital and had spoken to only one soldier by telephone, to whom he later attributed made-up quotes.
Blair wrote that the soldier “will most likely limp the rest of his life and need to use a cane”, which was untrue. He said another soldier had lost his right leg when it had been amputated below the knee. He described two soldiers as being in the hospital at the same time, but they were admitted five days apart.
After internal investigations, The New York Times reported on Blair’s journalistic misdeeds in an “unprecedented” 7,239-word front-page story on May 11, 2003, headlined “Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception.” The story called the affair “a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.”
After the scandal broke, some 30 former staffers of The Diamondback, who had worked with Blair when he was editor-in-chief at the university newspaper, signed a 2003 letter alleging that Blair had made four serious errors as a reporter and editor while at the University of Maryland.
They said these and his work habits brought his integrity into question. The letter-signers alleged that questions raised by some of these staffers at the time were ignored by Maryland Media, Inc. (MMI), the board that owned the paper.
Jayson Blair ImageJayson Blair Photo
Jayson Blair Aftermath
The investigation, known as the Siegal committee, found heated debate among the staff over affirmative action hiring, as Blair is African American.
Jonathan Landman, Blair’s editor, told the Siegal committee he felt that Blair’s being black played a large part in the younger man’s initial promotion in 2001 to the full-time staffer. “I think race was the decisive factor in his promotion,” he said. “I thought then and I think now that it was the wrong decision.”
Others disagreed. Five days later, New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert, an African American, asserted in his column that race had nothing to do with the Blair case:
“Listen up: the race issue, in this case, is as bogus as some of Jayson Blair’s reporting.” Herbert said, “folks who delight in attacking anything black, or anything designed to help blacks, have pounced on the Blair story as evidence that there is something inherently wrong with The New York Times’s effort to diversify its newsroom, and beyond that, with the very idea of a commitment to diversity or affirmative action anywhere.
And while these agitators won’t admit it, the nasty subtext to their attack is that there is something inherently wrong with blacks.”
Two senior editors, Executive Editor Howell Raines, and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd resigned after losing newsroom support in the aftermath of the scandal.
After resigning from The New York Times, Blair struggled with severe depression and, according to his memoir, entered a hospital for treatment. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder for the first time. He has acknowledged that he had been self-medicating when he was dealing with substance abuse of alcohol and cocaine in earlier years.
Blair later returned to college to complete his postponed degree. At one time he said he considered going into politics.
The year after he left the Times, Blair wrote a memoir, Burning Down My Masters’ House, published by New Millennium Books in 2004. Its initial print run was 250,000 copies; some 1,400 were sold in its first nine days.
The Associated Press reported that the potential audience for his book may have gained enough information from the New York Times coverage of the reporting scandal. Although most reviews were critical, sales of the book increased after Blair was interviewed by Larry King and Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly.
In his book, Blair revealed extended substance abuse, which he had ended before he resigned from the newspaper, and a struggle with bipolar disorder, which was diagnosed and first treated after he resigned. He also discussed journalistic practices at the Times, and his view of race relations and disagreements among senior editors at the newspaper.
In 2006 Blair was running a support group for people with bipolar disorder, for which he has received continuing treatment. In 2007 he became a life coach, working in Virginia, opening his own coaching center five years later. He was still working in this field in 2016.
Jayson Blair Wife, Married
Jayson Thomas Blair is a former American journalist who worked for The New York Times. He resigned from the newspaper in May 2003 in the wake of the discovery of fabrication and plagiarism in his stories. His pieces of information about Wife, Marriages are not yet revealed but stay ready for the update soon
Jayson Blair Life Coach
Jayson Blair, mental health coach and managing partner at Goose Creek Consulting, is a driven and passionate coach focused on helping others.
In 2003 Jayson was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After years of managing his bipolar disorder, Jayson lives by the belief that his purpose is to not judge others. His personal experience has allowed him the privilege of being able to develop a deep connection with his clients and foster an open, honest environment to encourage positive change.
Jayson’s specialties include motivating clients, managing bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, schizoaffective disorder and psychosis, borderline personality disorder and substance abuse. He also has experience working with individuals with mental disabilities, eating disorders, sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In addition to his personal experience with bipolar disorder, Jayson has spent many years working with individuals, their loved ones, support groups and others in inpatient and outpatient care settings. He is a seasoned advocate for his clients under any circumstance including school services eligibility and Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings with Disability Services Programs.
As well as being Goose Creek’s mental health coach Jayson is a career coach. As a career coach Jayson assists high school students, college students and adults with their resumes, to formulate and achieve their career goals, as well as provide career aptitude and personality testing.
Jayson believes that his role as a coach is to listen and guide his clients in a low-pressure, supportive environment while providing a system of accountability to ensure goals are met. Through his struggles and triumphs, Jayson has learned many lessons which he utilizes in his coaching.
Jayson’s non-judgmental attitude puts his clients at ease and allows them to work together to develop a realistic plan of action to encourage positive, proactive change. He is able to connect on a personal level with his clients and manage any concern they may have.
Jayson Blair Qualifications, Education, Experience
Jayson attended the University of Maryland, College Park, and the executive education programs at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a nationally known and sought-after mental health writer and consultant.
He has spoken on mental health issues at institutes such as Washington & Lee University, Winston-Salem State University, Roosevelt University, and Columbia College of Chicago.
Prior to founding Goose Creek, Jayson worked as a certified life coach at Ashburn Psychological Services. He is a founder of and served as executive director of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance of Northern Virginia. Jayson and the organization were responsible for outreach, community service, and peer specialist training.
He has served as a member of the board of directors of the International Bipolar Foundation. Jayson was a member of the Regional Recovery Workgroup, a state government-sponsored group focused on improving mental health services in Northern Virginia.
He has helped facilitate support groups and has sponsored mental health educational programs. He is a founding fellow of the Institute of Coaching, a McLean Hospital-Harvard Medical School affiliate.
Jayson Blair In popular culture
Choke Point, the play written by Colm Byrne and produced in 2007 in Los Angeles by Che’rae Adams, is based on Blair’s downfall.
A play about Blair, CQ/CX, written by Gabe McKinley, was produced by the Atlantic Theater Company in 2012. McKinley knew Blair personally, having worked at the Times during the period Blair was there.
The television series Law & Order used the Blair story as the inspiration for Episode 14.02: “Bounty”.
In the television series Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the Blair story inspired an episode about a young journalist in the third season episode “Pravda” (3.5).
Season 5 of the HBO series The Wire dealt with the subject of journalist fabrication, as well as the decline of print journalism. It mentions Jayson Blair in the last episode. The Wire creator David Simon had been a Baltimore Sun journalist and worked on The Diamondback, the student newspaper at the University of Maryland, College Park, where Blair was an editor.
A 2003 series of Pearls Before Swine comic strips portray Rat writing fraudulent New York Times stories on former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
A scene in Gilmore Girls episode “The Reigning Lorelai” (4.16) shows Rory’s editor, Doyle, becoming frustrated with the way Yale Daily News staffers act in the newsroom, calling it “the breeding ground for the next Jayson Blair.”
A documentary film featuring Jayson Blair was made by director/producer Samantha Grant. A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at The New York Times premiered at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival on June 14, 2013.
An episode of the television series The Simpsons based a joke on the Blair story in Episode 15.22: “Fraudcast News”. Milhouse tells Lisa he’s sorry but a story he “filed from Baghdad was all made up, (he) was actually in Basrah.”
During the White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2008, in response to the New York Times declining to attend that year because they felt the event undercut the credibility of the press, Craig Ferguson remarked: “I thought Jayson Blair and Judith Miller took care of that”.
Why he did it: Jayson Blair opens up about his plagiarism and fabrication at the New York Times
The former New York Times reporter spoke with Duke students about his mistakes, his bipolar disorder and how he found a new career in mental health.
Jayson Blair, a former New York Times reporter who is famous for the wrong reasons, stood in front of a class of Duke undergraduates Monday.
“There are no real ground rules,” he said. “You can ask me anything you want.”
There was an awkward pause. The students looked at each other, waiting for someone else to go first. A student in the front raised her hand and blurted out the first question.
“So why did you do it?”
She was referring to the 2003 scandal that seismically rocked the journalism world: the revelation that Blair had plagiarized and fabricated many of the stories he had written as a staff reporter for the New York Times. He had copied passages from other publications, conjured up fake quotations and lied repeatedly to cover up his misdeeds.
Blair resigned, and the Times published a punishing, lengthy report investigating Blair’s journalistic fraud and the newsroom breakdowns that had let him slip through the cracks. According to the report, Blair’s actions were “a profound betrayal of trust.” A month later, Executive Editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd turned in their own resignations.
Blair’s response to the student’s question was measured and thoughtful. It is, after all, a question that he has been asked – by editors, journalists, readers – for 13 years.
“There’s not one real, solid reason… it was a perfect storm of events.”
He got into journalism for noble reasons, he said. “I really cared about the profession and the impact, I didn’t really care about fame and glory.” That didn’t stop him, however, from fabricating quotes and stories, decisions he now attributes to “a combination of deep-seated character flaws.”
Blair was suffering from undiagnosed bipolar disorder and recovering from severe drug and alcohol addiction – which added fuel to an up-and-down cycle of plagiarizing and fabricating.
But Blair doesn’t believe his mental state is an excuse for what he did. “There are plenty of mentally-ill writers out there who don’t do similar things.” Instead, he emphasized, it was his character that was at the core of the problem.
Despite the scathing report about his journalistic sins, many people at the Times responded with humanity and compassion. The higher-ups at the newspaper ultimately put Blair in touch with the psychiatrists that helped him treat his bipolar disorder, he said.
In the class, Professor Bill Adair’s News as a Moral Battleground, students peppered him with questions. Does he have advice for his younger self? When did he begin fabricating? Was it the system or himself? Blair begins fidgeting with a piece of blue cloth from his pocket as he tackles each one.
“I was too arrogant. That arrogance blinded me to a lot of my weaknesses.”
It began small, Blair remembered. His first instance of plagiarism was an unattributed quote taken from the Associated Press in an interview – one he was sure his editors would catch. But no one did.
“Once you do something that crosses an ethical line… it is easy to go back and do it over and over,” he said. “I danced around it and then crossed it and had a really hard time coming back.”
Is he sorry for what he did?
“Absolutely,” he said without hesitation. Although he is not sorry for himself – it made him more humble, he believes, which strengthened his character – he is sorry for the colleagues he betrayed, the family he worried, and the damage he caused to journalism’s reputation. “I feel a lot of sadness. I handed people who didn’t want to believe journalists a great case for why they shouldn’t trust things. That hits me.”
Blair now lives in Northern Virginia, close to the family and friends he grew up with. After starting support groups in his area, he began working in mental health and currently runs his own life coaching practice.
Although he wrote a book in 2004 about his experience, Burning Down My Masters’ House, he says he regrets writing it so soon after the scandal. It took him, he estimates, eight years to truly gain perspective on what happened. “I’m gonna burn all the copies!” he joked.
He isn’t seeking to return to journalism, he said, because he understands why he’d never be hired. “Once you’ve done something that leads people to question your trust, your effectiveness in the field becomes limited. You don’t have the right to go back.”
“I still love journalism. I miss it. (But) it just doesn’t work without the trust.”