I’m sure many of you have never heard the name “Jayson Blair” before. The first time I heard about him, I was a junior in my spring semester here at BU. The due date for the first installment of my research paper was coming up, and my Social Foundations of the Mass Media professor, Dr. Magolis, was talking about citing sources and how to avoid plagiarism. The name Jayson Blair came up, and most of the class didn’t know who he was. I think Dr. Magolis was a little bit surprised that we had never heard of the man who committed one of the most serious and famous cases of plagiarism the journalism world had ever seen.
In 1996, Jayson Blair started out as a journalist, later to become the editor-in-chief, of the school newspaper, The Diamondback, at the University of Maryland, College Park. During his time as editor-in-chief, Blair’s integrity was questioned when a report that four serious errors were made in reporting (Jayson Blair
). In November of 1999, Blair became a reporter at The New York Times.
In April of 2003, just three years after Blair started working the the Times, Jim Roberts, national editor of the Times, called Blair questioning him about similarities in a story he wrote and one written by Macarena Hernandez of the San Antonio Express-News (Jayson Blair). This lead to the an in-depth investigation into the 27-year-old Times reporter. According to JaysonBlair.com, “In the initial investigation into Blair, an incredible 36 of the 73 national news stories he had written since the previous October were found to be suspect. When the investigation was widened to the approximately 600 articles he had written over four years for The Times, yet more problems were encountered.”
Not only was the integrity of Blair compromised, the integrity of the New York Times was also in question. Blair was forced to resign from the paper.
In the aftermath of the fallout, Blair wrote a memoir entitled, “Burning Down My Master’s House” as well spoke at numerous conferences to discuss the incident. Even after all the wrong that he did, Blair was still getting paid for the book and the speeches.
Jayson Blair is a prime example of why you shouldn’t plagiarize. What started out as simply adding a false quote turned into something much much more. Plagiarizing is never worth it.